More than €1m paid out to councillors in 2018
Record total in payments and expenses to Wexford's 34 councillors
More than €1m was paid out in councillor's representational payments and expenses in 2018, the highest sum on record for Co Wexford public representatives.
Councillors who served a full year received €16,867 each in representational payments, which are subject to PAYE, PRSI and other statutory deductions, except for Sinn Fein Cllr Thomas Forde who received €17,505, allowing for the fact that he was co-opted onto the council in late 2016.
Figures obtained by this newspaper reveal the highest earner for the year was Kilmore Quay man Cllr Jim Moore, who was paid €45,104. The Fine Gael councillor's payment included €6,025 for being a Wexford borough chairperson and €6,000 for being a Special Policy Committee chairperson. €286 was spent on conferences he attended, €7,447 was spent enabling him to represent the council at conferences abroad and he had a phone allowance of €600. His expenses amounted to €6,372.
The second highest earner was North Wexford man Cllr John Hegarty, who earned €44,913 before tax. The Fine Gael councillor received €5,470 in expenses, a €135 phone allowance, while €253 was spent so he could attend conferences in Ireland and €3,140 was spent so he could attend conferences abroad.
Cllr Hegarty received €3,081 for being Gorey Municipal District chairman and €14,488 for being Wexford County Council chairman. His expenses amounted to €5,470.
In third place was outgoing councillor Larry O'Brien, who received €41,097 before tax. His training expenses came to €6,451 and his training fees amounted to €1,270. €882 as spent on conference abroad fees for the Campile man, who is one of the council's longest serving members, while €325 was spent for him to attend conferences in Ireland.
His phone allowance amounted to €274. Cllr O'Brien's municipal district allowance was €1,475.70 and he received €6,000 for being a Special Policy Committee chairman. Cllr O'Brien's expenses amounted to €7,551.
For the second year running the three highest earners were Fine Gael party councillors.
The highest earning Fianna Fáil councillor was the chairman of New Ross Municipal district Council, Cllr John Fleming who received €38,266 before tax. His total includes €6,000 for being a Special Policy Committee chairman, €3,058 for being cathaoirleach of New Ross Municipal district council, a municipal allowance of €1,475, €6,598 in expenses, €519 for attending conferences abroad, €2,671 for training expenses, and €1,135 for training fees.
Independent Cllr Ger Carthy from Our Lady's Island had the highest expenses bill, coming in at €9,169.
The total spent on councillors came to €1,011,573, up almost €70,000 on the total figure on 2017.
A new category this year reveals all councillors received a €1,475.70 municipal district allowance for the full year. The total sum came to €50,101 for all 34 councillors. The Department for Local Government said this is in order to reflect the additional work of and expenses incurred by councillors since the introduction of reforms in the Local Government Act (2014), which reduced the number by 41 per cent (from 1,627 to 949).
According to the figures, representational payments came to €574,127 and members expenses came to €221,427.
€11,555 was spent on training fees for councillors, training expenses came to €41,367, €27,277 was spent on conferences abroad. Training is provided to councillors by the Association of Local Government in Ireland and the Local Authority Members Association, while conference fees are paid directly to conference organisers and not to members.
The phone bill for all councillors came to €7,685.
The sum spent on enabling councillors to attend conferences in Ireland came to €4,939, with conference fees amounting to €345.
Councillors receive a monthly allowance for attendance at monthly, annual, Special Policy Committee, Budget, Organisation Procedure & Protocol, deputations and special meetings as part of their representational role. This allowance is subject to the rates and rules of the Annual Expenses Allowance, as set out under Local Government (expenses of Local Authority Members) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 236 of 2014) (as amended).
Four councillors were in receipt of Special Policy Committee chairperson payments. These were Cllr Jim Moore (€6,000), Cllr John Fleming (6,000), Cllr Larry O'Brien (6,000) and Cllr Michael Sheehan (€6,000). Eight municipal district chairperson allowance payments were made, amounting to €28,034. These were to Willie Kavanagh (€3,104), Willie Fitzharris (€2,943), Joe Sullivan (3,065.94), Tony Dempsey (€5,979), Keith Doyle (€919), John Hegarty (€3,081), John Fleming (€3,058), Joe Sullivan (€2,920) and Jim Moore (€6,025).
Cllr Keith Doyle, who holds the chairmanship of the body presently, decided to contribute the value of his Municipal District Chairperson annual allowance of €6,000 for his 2017/2018 appointment to the Vinegar Hill Development Project.
He also agreed to contribute the value of his Wexford County Council chairperson allowance of €30,000 for his 2018/2019 appointment to the development of the Sports Hub in Enniscorthy.