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Councillors pay in the spotlight

Thursday, 6th June, 2019 9:33am

There’s been mixed reaction from a cross section of political parties after calls were made for the “poor pay” councillors receive to be increased.

The flat rate for councillors is €17,000 per annum and it is often branded as a part-time job. Independent Senator Victor Boyhan made the call this week for councillor’s wages to be increased.

Some councillors told the newspaper that they would be in favour of the role being a full-time job if it meant they received a full time wage.

Senator Boyhan said: “As city and county councillors prepare to take their seats in council chambers across the country, it is timely that we address the issue of poor pay for councillors.”

He said he has been a long-time advocate for councillors pay and conditions and is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Local Government.

Fianna Fáil Cllr Kenneth O’Flynn said he was “very happy” with the wage and was of the opinion that councillors know what the pay is before they run for a council seat. He said: “Now is not the time for a politician’s wage to be increased, what we need is more money for city improvements.”

Newly elected councillor Damian Boylan, with the Fine Gael party said that he would back calls for a pay increase if it meant encouraging more people to get into politics. He said the money may be putting people off running in local elections adding that most wouldn’t be able to live on the wage without a second job and would be in favour of it being a full-time job with a full time wage.

He explained: “If we pay people properly and we can encourage more people into local politics then I am all for it.”

Another newly elected councillor Lorna Bogue of the Green Party told the Cork Independent that if the wage was enough to live off, she would be able to do it full-time but at the moment there is no option for her to leave her full-time job.

She said the wage may be having an impact on the make up of the council adding that if she had dependents, she would find it very hard to justify it time-wise and financially.

She added that she would “definitely” be on for it being a full-time job.

Solidarity Cllr Fiona Ryan said she would also support it being a full-time job with a full-time wage adding that external factors like rents, mortgages, insurance costs and bills means living off a councillor’s wage is difficult.

Cllr Ryan is a full-time councillor having given up her job when she was co-opted into the role a few years ago. “The role of a councillor has changed over the years and it has become a full-time job,” said the northside
councillor.

The Government appointed Senior Counsel Sara Moorhead in June 2018 to conduct an independent review of the role and remuneration of councillors.

A spokesperson from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said: “Sara Moorhead, Senior Counsel, is carrying out the Independent Review of the Role and Remuneration of Local Authority Elected Members. Ms Moorhead has submitted an interim report and it was published in November 2018.

“In order to progress towards the final report, it was necessary to survey all local authority members and to seek financial information from all local authorities.

“The survey has now been completed and, in both cases, deadline extensions were granted to allow sufficient time for comprehensive responses to be made. The department understand that the drafting of the final report is progressing well and expect to receive it shortly. Following the necessary consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the review will be submitted to Government in due course and published thereafter."

 

 

 

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