— Council also points out it gets a gift of a bicycle from the Dublin Cycling Campaign.
A car presented to Lord Mayors of Dublin City is not a gift to any single person because it is shared between two consecutive Lord Mayors and is only used for official business, Dublin City Council has said.
As this website reported last week, Cork City Council accepted that the “sponsorship” of the car of €69,000 car was a gift, but also said that it was shared between two Lord Mayors.
The Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO) confirmed that Lord Mayors are considered local authority members who are covered by its Code of Conduct for Employees, but said that it does not respond to individual cases.
Sinéad Murphy, a spokesperson for Dublin City Council, said: “Dublin City Council does accept an official car through a sponsorship agreement which is currently with Volvo Car Ireland. We are very grateful to Volvo Car Ireland for providing a hybrid car to the Office of the Lord Mayor for use by the Lord Mayor for official Lord Mayor’s business.
“The agreement is with the Office of the Lord Mayor and is not a gift to the person who is Lord Mayor. It is not available to the Lord Mayor, or family members, for their use in a personal capacity. The car is used annually by a minimum of two different Lord Mayors. Following the election of the Lord Mayor, they are advised of the conditions of the use of the car,” said Murphy.
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She said: “The car is driven by a staff member of Dublin City Council and is never driven by the Lord Mayor. The Driver has responsibility for the car and when not in use the car is kept in a Dublin City Council depot. At the end of the calendar year the car is returned to Volvo.”
Murphy added: “Since 2018, Dublin Cycling Campaign has presented a bike to the Lord Mayor for use by the Lord Mayor of the day on a similar basis.”
On gifts, the SIPO guidelines state: “The Act provides that an employee is prohibited from seeking, exacting or accepting any remuneration, fee, reward or other favour for any act done or not done by virtue of his or her employment. Employees in observing this provision must also have regard to this Code’s guidance.”
“The overriding concern in all cases is that the actions of local government employees should be above suspicion and not give rise to any conflict of interest and that their dealings with business and other interests should bear the closest possible scrutiny and avoid any risk of damage to public confidence in local government…” the guidelines said.
There is an exception for the “normal presentation of ‘official gifts’ or tokens” given by, for example visiting dignitary, or if the employee is a “speaker at a conference etc.,”. The guidelines stress that: ” No other gifts other than infrequent items such as diaries, calendars, pens or other infrequent tokens of modest intrinsic value, should be accepted.”
The guidelines outline that: “Any gift other than a modest token should be courteously but firmly declined.”