€300,000 on council ‘vanity projects’

Over €300,000 of funding which could be used to improve community amenities may instead be used by Portlaoise Town Council for such “vanity projects” as statues of obscure historical figures.

So said Portlaoise Town Councillor Caroline Dwane, revealing that the town council has yet to decide how to spend over €300,000 capital funding, despite the fact that the money was to be allocated by last June and there are only a few months left before the council is abolished.

The proposed expenditure of the funding on a statue of Rory O’Moore, one of the organisers of the 1641 Irish Rebellion, or a statue of a horse and cart in Market Square, has been lambasted by the Sinn Fein councillor, who is calling on the council to instead spend the money on things the town actually needs.

“A substantial amount of money was going to these projects and there was no support for the very valuable, necessary projects like St Brigid’s Place Community Centre, or the Arus Eoghan Childcare facility at O’Moore Place,” she said.

She said that all submissions were meant to be in by last January, with all submissions to be finalised by June. However, she claims that only Sinn Fein had their submissions finalised and she has described her fellow town councillors as “spoilt children in the corner who are not prepared to share their toys”.

“It was suggested that each councillor pool their ideas, with about €30,000 each, but that wasn’t accepted,” she said. “I can’t stand over this in the current climate, these projects aren’t necessary.”

Apart from the erection of statues, another suggestion was the erection of “fancy lights” around the town, which Cllr Dwane dismisses as “vanity lights”. Proposals she would support are the development of the new library, the installation of a basketball court at the leisure centre, or a third level education centre in Portlaoise.

She said that if the money is not spent before the abolition of the town council in May, then the funds will go into the coffers of Laois County Council. A meeting of the town council is scheduled for next week (January 14) and Cllr Dwane said she believes the funding will be finalised then.


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