Independent Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr has revealed his reasons for not attending HSE meetings for the past year and a half.
The former Labour councillor says he cannot justify claiming up to €350 each time he attends a meeting.
Cllr McBrearty says he will not travel to Galway and as far as Limerick for meetings when he feels he can have the same input on a local level.
Here, in his own words, Cllr McBrearty explains why he has failed to claim up to what he estimates in up to €7,000 in expenses within the past 18 months.
“In the run up to the last general election both government parties promised, if and when in power, to reduce the number of quangos in existence, describing them as being both wasteful and inefficient.
“So far, under our current government, only 45 of these bodies have been abolished or are due to be culled. However, remaining true to typical Fine Gael/Labour hypocrisy, the incumbent administration has created a further 33 quangos – no doubt in an effort to facilitate more jobs for the boys as well as to maintain their hefty and exorbitant expenses.
“When elected in 2009 to Donegal County Council, I was appointed to the HSE Western Forum along with four other Councillors to represent the people of Donegal. The meetings are held roughly ten times per year, taking place mainly in Galway but also, on occasion, in either Manorhamilton or Limerick.
“There are 41 Councillors who travel from all over the country to attend these meetings, and every one of these Councillors receives expenses for doing so. I recall, on one occasion, going to a meeting in Limerick only to be told – once there – that the event’s key speakers were unable to attend in person and instead, we had to make do with a conference call from each of them.
“On that day, I was truly disillusioned; the individuals on the end of that conference call were sitting at a desk in Letterkenny General Hospital, while I had just travelled 345 kilometres (not to mention having still to travel the same distance to return home) to listen to each of them, when I could have driven 20 kilometres to Letterkenny hospital and done the same thing!
“Today, I am still on the HSE Western Forum, however, for over a year and half now I have refused to attend meetings, and during this time, I have not collected expenses. I cannot justify collecting on average €350 each time I attend one of these meetings and, by not doing so, I have lost out on around €7,000.
“This is money, which I believe, could be better spent on our health service which, at present, is both under-staffed and under-resourced.
“The saddest thing about all of this is that this is happening in every county right across Ireland today.
“By making my representations by phone and by email, I have continued to represent the people of Donegal. I feel that I can do the same job without claiming extortionate expenses. While I do believe that these meetings can be informative on some occasions, it is my belief that there needs to be a better system put in place which can facilitate these meetings while, at the same time, make them much more cost effective.
“There is no reason why members cannot get answers to their questions by attending meetings in Letterkenny General Hospital and – should the need arise – via conference calls with officials from outside the county.
“Ultimately however, quangos must be brought to an end in this country, full stop. We all know what happened in the dying days of the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party led government, when quango appointments were handed out to party members like sweets in a candy store.
“What has changed from the previous government? NOTHING!!!”