15 May 1997 Edition

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SDLP junkets exposed

Sinn Féin in Newry and South Armagh has accused the SDLP of ``bleeding the ratepayers dry''. In a message to all voters in the area the party claims that the SDLP-controlled Newry and Mourne Council spent a staggering £170,000 on junkets between May 1993 and November 1996.

Of the top ten spending Councillors seven are from the SDLP. Between them they claimed over £61,000.

Trips claimed for included a visit by five SDLP councillors to Holiday World in Dublin at a cost of £1,376 and a visit to Brussels by two SDLP and one DUP councillor which cost the council £3,000. One SDLP Councillor, Arthur Ruddy, even managed two trips to the Czech Republic inside four months, once with Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy, at a total cost of almost £4,000.

In the last four years the district rates in Newry and Mourne have risen by record levels (an average of 7.6% each year for four years).

When Sinn Féin Councillors tried to propose a motion to curtail junkets they were obstructed by the other parties.

``Some SDLP and Unionist Councillors see the Council as a free holiday club,'' said Newry Sinn Féin Councillor, Davy Hyland, ``but their travelling days are numbered. We are getting a great response to our canvassing and the voters are looking forward to throwing out the high spenders. The surest way to do that is by voting Sinn Féin.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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