Hearty supports PSNI probe into £44 Council blunder

November 11, 2013

By Christine Keighery

Sinn Fein Councillor Terry Hearty has expressed his support for calls for the PSNI to investigate a financial blunder by Newry and Mourne District Council which saw 44,000 paid to a company in administration.

Mr Hearty revealed the gaffe last year which centred on the planned Council Recycling facility on the Newry Road in Crossmaglen.  In 2009 the Council purchased the site and negotiations of the sale included an agreement that the seller would construct an entrance road. However, this never materialised and the company later went into administration.

It emerged that the Council handed over £44,000 to the seller without following proper protocol and was embroiled in a legal battle to have this money returned.  Furthermore, the road still needed constructed at a projected cost of £65,000.  Council officials also admitted that an important file documenting the terms of the sale had since disappeared.

At the time, the Crossmaglen Councillor was incensed at the apparent waste of taxpayers’ money and the mishandling of the case by officials, and demanded an independent investigation into the circumstances of the errors.

Last week, Mournes councillor William Burns (DUP) slammed that independent investigation as incomplete and called for the PSNI to become involved in the matter.  The DUP councillor condemned the unsatisfactory outcome of the council commissioned probe and insisted the next step was to involve the police in getting to the bottom of the matter.

Speaking to The Examiner about the on-going saga, Terry Hearty said he supported a full and thorough investigation into the case.

“I support calls that the PSNI investigates this serious blunder by Newry & Mourne council officials,” he said.

“I have been consistently calling for a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the payment of £44,000 to a company in administration.

“A mistake of this magnitude warrants the most thorough investigation of all of the evidence.  This has been hindered so far by the fact that the files pertaining to this matter have been lost by council officials.

“I am answerable to the ratepayers of Newry & Mourne and I believe they deserve answers on this matter.”