I am in a good mood this evening as it seems the Media has yet again made up lies in relation to the so-called "disbarment" of 15 councillors in Newry and Mourne Council. According to media reports the councillors will be hit by a £10,000 surcharge and disbarred for 5 years. While they are being hit by a surcharge, no where in the Local Government Auditors report does it say the councilors are being disbarred.
Under the Local Government Act 1972 section 82 the LGA has sought to recover the amount according to him that was a loss incurred by the willful misconduct of the 15 councillors.
That is all fine and dandy but according to Section 82 (4) If a certificate under this section relates to a loss or deficiency caused by the wilful misconduct of a person who is, or was at the time of such misconduct, a member of the council concerned and the amount certified to be due from him exceeds £2,000, that person shall be disqualified for being elected or being a member of a council for the period of five years beginning on the ordinary date on which the period allowed for bringing an appeal against a decision to give the certificate expires or, if such an appeal is brought, the date on which the appeal is finally disposed of or abandoned or fails for non-prosecution.
The amount that each councillor has to pay is around £670, far below the £2,000 bar that leads to exclusion. This piece of legislation proves that there will be no councillors in Newry and Mourne disqualified and Willie and Danny will just have to cry into their tea.
The case with the Fermanagh Unionist councillors is different because it involves a surcharge of almost £40,000 with each councillor exceeding the £2,000 bar for exclusion.
It will be interesting to watch this story unfold but there is no doubt in my mind that not one of these councillors will be disbarred and that the real winners out of all of this will be the people of Newry and Mourne who will not lose very valuable and very experienced public representatives.