Eyebrows were raised yesterday in the county over leaked plans for one of its councillors to visit Florida as part of a fact find on behalf of East Tyrone District Council.
Copy travel documents showed that recently-elected mid-Ulster Councillor Seamie ‘Red Boy’ McCloy, intends to spend three weeks in Florida next month at a cost of £8,500 at the taxpayer’s expense, conducting a feasibility study on importing bog and peat back to Tyrone rather than producing it locally.
Challenged on the abundance of it which already sits in the county, McCloy retorted,
“Jaysus. That’s the whole point of the visit, isn’t it? How do we know whether it’s feasible without going to see it? We need a bird’s eye view of the area to assess potential for excavation. And if the best way of doing that is from the top of a 300-foot high mega-rollercoaster, then that’s just pure coincidence. Getting bog from America might actually be cheaper than producing it locally. Or something like that”.
The colourful councillor has continually courted controversy since making the headlines in 2012 when he was found in the ladies’ cloakroom of the Council offices wearing an odd number of socks. He has since been embroiled in an embarrassing incident at a farm near Windmill which he claimed was simply him ‘being overly-friendly with a labrador’.
“It’s all nonsense”, said an angry McCloy, thumping his desk so hard that several bottles of suntan lotion fell off. “And anyway, the judge ruled not proven, so go and feck. I’ve dedicated my life to Tyrone, trying to raise it up to the standards of the nice Ulster counties like Derry, Sligo, Monaghan and suchlike. That’s why I need to go to Florida for three weeks. Or four depending on the complexities. And the weather”.
Questioned about whether the Galbally man was going on the trip to get away from the controversy around some of the decisions he has made since moving into office, McCloy was uncompromising. Wearing an enormous foam hand and jabbing the big sticky-out finger to make his point, he said,
“Listen. Do you think sat in a jumbo for 8 hours is going to be fun? The only movie they’re showing is ‘Les Miserables’, and I can’t stand the Germans. I’ve made mistakes in the past. I’ll admit it. But all I’m trying to do is modernise the county. And if ‘Naked Tuesday’ is a wee bit too much for some of thon puritans in the East Tyrone Council offices, then they should wise up. The Florida trip is pure business, nothing else. I’m certainly not looking forward to it. I’ve got a mountain of work to do. And I’ve only got three sleeps to go before I leave”.
The councillor also faced criticism earlier this year for going to New York City on 17 March to explore the possibility of the importation of Guinness to the county.