Fine Gael criticised for selecting candidate who contravened conduct guidelines

Councillor Cyril Burke topped poll at party recent selection convention in Castlebar


Fine Gael has been criticised for selecting a candidate to run in the local elections in Mayo who was found to have contravened the code of conduct for Councillors.

Councillor Cyril Burke topped the poll at a party selection convention in Castlebar last Sunday when he received 94 of the 212 votes cast.

In the Dáil on Wednesday, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith highlighted what she described as the “very serious failure” of Mr Burke in breaching the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) guidelines.

She said he had failed an ethics standard but had still been returned to stand for election.

Without referring to Mr Burke, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there were “entire parties in this House who had findings made against them for not filing their accounts on time. We are not just talking about accounts”.

The commission ruled in December that Cllr Burke and Independent councillor Frank Durcan had not acted “in good faith” when they “recklessly engaged in conduct, over a sustained period of time, in contravention of various provisions of the Code of Conduct for Councillors”.

Both men were also found to have contravened the provisions of the Local Government Act.

They were investigated by the State’s ethics watchdog over the potential rezoning of land owned by Cllr Durcan outside Castlebar for the construction of a nursing home.

Ms Smith said Cllr Burke did not reach the ethics standards “yet last weekend the same councillor was nominated to run for the local elections at a convention in Mayo”.

She said there was either a gap in the legislation or “there is a problem in Fine Gael when someone fails the ethical standards of the State and the party returns him without any question to represent the constituency in Mayo”.

Ms Smith asked what the Government had to say about it.

She suggested the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act should be revised to “to make sure that there are consequences for failure to adhere to those standards”.

Mr Varadkar said “there are no plans for additional legislation in this area”.