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FG candidate defends no expenses pledge after party colleague calls him a 'tosser'

Noel Rock has been criticised by sitting Fine Gael councillor Professor Bill Tormey over a pledge to take no expenses if elected next year and an incorrect claim that councillors can claim up to €60,000 per year.

Noel Rock with Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Noel Rock with Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Image: Dave Nowak via Twitter

A FINE GAEL candidate for Dublin City Council has defended his pledge not to take any expenses if he is elected next year after criticism from party and constituency colleague , Professor Bill Tormey, who has called him a “tosser” on Twitter.

Tormey, a Fine Gael councillor for the Ballymun-Finglas area, has strongly criticised party colleague Noel Rock’s pledge that he will not take any expenses if elected to the council, saying a leaflet contains “very, very wrong information”.

Rock has pledged that he will not take what he claims is “€35,500 in tax-free expenses” during his term, along with the other average phone expenses taken by local councillors, claiming this is the equivalent of approximately €60,000.

However, Tormey has disputed the figures, saying that city councillors can avail of a maximum of €10,000 in expenses, accusing of Rock of engaging “in a form of egregious abuse to ingratiate himself with the voters”.

“He obviously lives on Mars because mere earthlings would cop-on that €60,000 per year in expenses for a councillor would be impossible to justify or sustain,” Tormey said on his website.

Rock has acknowledged he made a “genuine mistake” on around 500 leaflets distributed in his constituency, which said that councillors could claim €60,000 ‘per annum’. He said the leaflets should has said ‘per term’.

Transparent system

But speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Tormey insisted the expenses system is transparent and that all his expenses are published: “If he had bothered to go and look at the Dublin City Council website instead of making a fantastical statement… they’re [Rock's claims] are quite outrageous, that the likes of me is taking €60,000 tax-free from citizenry. It’s nearly defamatory.”

Tormey said that he does not take any vouched expenses but does avail of an unvouched allowance of €583 per month or €7,000 per year. But Rock, who is a parliamentary assistant to senator Catherine Noone, said that Tormey and others do not like the fact he will be taking “zero, zilch” expenses if he is elected.

“I’ve clarified my position: I’ll be taking zero. Zilch. This councillor doesn’t like that fact, and seems to like the unclear, untransparent, unfair, unvouched expenses system from which he has benefited, and is willing to defend that by resorting to childish name-calling and bullyboy tactics,” Rock told TheJournal.ie.

Tormey described Rock as a “tosser” on Twitter and told this website today that he stood by that statement, saying it is a “succinct description” and that Rock is somebody he “couldn’t take seriously at all”.

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Rock did not want to comment on the ‘tosser’ remark, but added: “This isn’t about personalities, or back and forth, it’s about an idea: an idea that I support, that I believe in, and that Bill doesn’t. We need fresh thinking, fresh ideas and, I firmly believe, fresh faces – this kind of outdated defensive thinking needs to go.”

He added that some 20 councillors have contacted him about the issue, the vast majority of whom are critical of his stance in contrast to what he said was the public response, largely welcoming his pledge.

Fine Gael did not respond to a request for comment on the split between two party members in the same constituency at the time of publication.

Read: Fine Gael councillor erects posters calling for No vote in Seanad referendum

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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