FORMER TOWN COUNCILLORS GOT HANDSHAKE OF OVER 4,000 EURO EACH
After the last local elections, four ex Fermoy town councillors each received a handshake of over €4,000 as compensation for losing their seats. Former councillors Tim Carey, William Hughes, Brian Power and Peter Merrigan received €4,401 each on top of €3,030.78 in other payments.
All four councillors spent one term on Fermoy Town Council with William Hughes serving one term as Mayor of Fermoy in 2008.
Town clerk Ray Owens explained these payments in an email to The Avondhu; “The four past members retired in June 2009 and were entitled to the normal allowances and expenses from January to June of that year. The gratuity paid was in respect of their service from 2004 to 2009 as part of a scheme introduced nationally by the Government.”
“This is a payment that came into effect about 10 years ago for councillors who would be retiring or, indeed, have lost their seats. It’s like a redundancy payment I suppose,” Peter Merrigan told The Avondhu this week.
The Avondhu requested a list of councillors’ payments and expenses from the town hall and received a breakdown of these for 2008 and 2009.
The payments to councillors are broken down under the following headings; Representational Payments, Annual Allowance, Mayor’s Allowance (which is paid to the councillor after his or her term as Mayor comes to an end) and conference and other expenses.
TOPPED THE LIST
In 2008 each councillor received €4,293.82 in Representational Payments and €2,200 as an Annual Allowance. William Hughes, who served as mayor, received a further €5,000 and then each councillor submitted their expenses and conference costs.
For 2008 Mayor William Hughes topped the list when he claimed €5,390.48 in expenses and conference costs. This gave the then Cllr Hughes €16,884.30 in payments for 2008.
In 2009 the councillors’ Representational Payment increased to €4,448.87 while their Annual Allowance dropped to €2,135.31 and there was a substantial drop in the amount of expenses claimed by the councillors.
Cllr Tadgh O’Donovan served as Mayor during the first half of 2009 and received his €5,000 allowance when his term ended. Cllr O’Donovan also topped the list of expenses with €2,774.22.
It was pointed out to The Avondhu that, while in 2008 each councillor had €2,700 each for conferences, this figure has dropped to €3,000 for all nine councillors in 2009. Also the figures received are before tax is deducted.
NO EXPENSES CLAIMED
However, the list from the town hall also reveals that some councillors did not claim any expenses at all for 2008 or 2009. Cllr Michael Hanley and Cllr Seamus Coleman claimed no expenses for 2008 or 2009 while newly elected councillors, Colette Dolan-Moore, Olive Corcoran and Pa O’Driscoll claimed zero expenses for 2009. Councillors are also members of boards and committees
“All members of the town council are members of the committees set up by the council. No allowances are paid in respect of these committees. Cllr O’Donovan is a member of the County Cork VEC which the council are entitled to elect a member to. He is also a member of a Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) of Cork County Council.
"Cllr Pyne is the Council delegate to the AGM of Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurances. Cllr Pyne is also on the board of Avondhu Blackwater Partnership as this council’s representative. Cllr Pyne is a life member of the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI).
“Cllr Murphy represents the council on an SPC of Cork County Council. He is also a delegate to the AMAI. Cllr Corcoran is a delegate to the AMAI. She also represents the urban authorities of Cork on the Cork County Development Board.
“The listed members may claim expenses in respect of their attendance at meetings of these committees and board and any such claims are included in the figures given to The Avondhu,” town clerk Ray Owens said.
Mayor of Fermoy Pa O’Driscoll feels that the expenses system for councillors needs to be reviewed and overhauled.
“The whole system needs to be revamped. In fairness to Minister John Gormley, he has made a start but, considering the way the economy of the country is going, there is a lot more that needs to be done to ensure that if councillors believe that conferences are worth attending, these conferences should be provided by the relevant government department or local authority.
"For example, it is the Department of the Environment should be arranging planning conferences and not some outside company, " he said. Cllr O’Driscoll went on to outline the details of a recent conference that was advertised for councillors.
“I was shocked when I saw the title, ‘Facebook for Councillors’, I mean that’s just ridiculous,” Cllr O’Driscoll said.
Thursday 14th October 6:22pm