independent

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Former councillors get €315,657

Simon Bourke

Local councillors who either lost their seat or retired from politics in the past two years subsequently received substantial gratuity payments in recognition for their time in office.

A total of €315,657 was paid by Wexford County Council to twelve outgoing councillors, six of whom lost their seats in this year's local elections.

Keith Doyle (Fianna Fáil), Willie Fitzharris (Fine Gael), Robbie Ireton (Labour), Paddy Kavanagh (Fine Gael), and Johnny Mythen (Sinn Féin) lost out in May's elections but subsequently had the blow softened by the payment.

However, in order to qualify for the payment, a councillor must have served at local level for at least two years and be aged 50 or over. Therefore, 46-year-old former Sinn Féin councillor Mick Roche, who lost out in the Wexford District this year, was not considered eligible for the payment yet.

In addition to those who ran in the 2019 local elections six other former councillors either received the payments or will do so once they turn 50. They were Tony Dempsey (Fianna Fáil), who retired in advance of this year's elections, Martin Murphy (Fianna Fáil), who announced his retirement in March, Larry O'Brien (Fine Gael), who retired in February, Oisin O'Connell (Sinn Féin), who resigned his seat late last year, Anthony Kelly (Sinn Féin), who retired in 2017, and Deirdre Wadding (PBP), who stepped down from office in October of that year.

Discussing the payments former councillor and one-time Council Chairman, Keith Doyle, said he had given back more money to his local community than any other councillor in the country,

'I gave back €44,000 out of my allowances, and I got paid for 25 years of service,' said Mr Doyle. 'I didn't take any allowances, didn't take the phone allowance, didn't take the €30,000 for becoming chairman. I didn't do my service for monetary purposes. Not one councillor in the country gave back €44,000, that's all on record. I gave back money from my own expenses for key local projects,' the Enniscorthy man concluded.

Former Gorey councillor Robbie Ireton said the sums quoted didn't reflect the true figures involved.

'The figures published aren't a true reflection, that money is all taxable at the high end,' said Mr Ireton, who argued local councillors do not receive sufficient recompense for the work they do.

'Given the salary councillors get, especially working councillors, the pay doesn't reflect the hours you put in. If you look at the hours we put in compared to Senators and TDs we'd quadruple their hours and they're getting a lot more than us. Councillors aren't paid nearly enough. The gratuity payment is approximately €1,000 a year depending on the length of time served. I was never in it for the money anyway,' said Mr Ireton.

For those elected to council after 2010, the gratuity is one fifth of the annual representational payment - a sum of €16,891, or €3,378.20 for every year served. It is capped at four times the annual representational payment after 20 years on a council. For local representatives elected before 2010, another set of criteria entitles them to €714.23 per year for each of the first 20 years served and €476.15 for each year after.

Wexford People

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