By Paul O’Malley
Mayo County Council spent €13,000 sending a delegation to the USA for last St Patrick’s Day.
A Freedom of Information request showed five council representatives travelled to New York and Philadelphia in March. They were chief executive Kevin Kelly, cathaoirleach Cllr Michael Smyth, Cllr Michael Burke, Cllr Mark Duffy and Cllr Annie-May Reape.
The total cost of flights and accommodation was €9,575 while a further €2,173 was spent on ground transport, which was provided primarily by DouglasVIP Chauffeured Services.
Some €1,910 was spent on flight amendments and name changes in relation to delegation travel. This was incurred due to Cllr Seamus Weir having to pull out of travelling at the last minute for personal reasons with Cllr Duffy travelling in his place. The total cost of the trip was €13,658. No travel expenses were received by the council in relation to travelling to and from Shannon.
The group flew out with Aer Lingus from Shannon to JFK Airport in New York on Friday, March 11. They were picked up by DouglasVIP and brought the Courtyard Hotel in Manhattan, their base for the first leg of the trip. On Saturday evening, they attended the Mayo Society Dinner.
On Sunday, the group travelled to Philadelphia where they stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel for one night and attended the Philadelphia Parade. On Monday, they attended a Business Breakfast and a Business Lunch before travelling back to New York where they once again stayed at the Courtyard. On Tuesday, the delegation attended the presentation of the cathaoirleach award to John Feerick and had a lunchtime meeting with representatives from the County Mayo Foundation.
On Wednesday, the cathaoirleach and chief executive attended an Ireland US Council Lunch, while on Thursday (St Patrick’s Day), the delegation attended Morning Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral and the New York Parade. The group returned to Ireland on Friday, March 18.
The council said of the trip: “The key objective of the travel was to re-engage with the Mayo Diaspora and to attend a number of events in Mayo communities in New York and Philadelphia. A key focus of the trip was to promote Home to Mayo 2022.”