OVER 170,000 PAID TO TOWN COUNCILLORS
Figures obtained from Fermoy Town Council have revealed that over €170,000 was paid to the nine town councillors in expenses and allowances during the current local authority’s lifetime, writes Joe Leogue.
Of the €170,218.91 paid out between June 2004 and March 2009, €135,064.91 was paid to the majority who form the pact of five within Fermoy Town Council. The figures are expected to intensify the debate over the value for money of conference attendances, the expenses of which accounts for the majority of the money paid out.
While all nine members of Fermoy Town Council received a compulsory allowance of €8,788.50 each over the last five years, Councillors John Murphy, William Hughes, Aileen Pyne, Tadhg O’Donovan and Tim Carey also received a total of €91,122.41 in expenses and mayoral bonuses between them.
Cllr John Murphy received the largest payment from the council, with allowances and expenses totalling €31,264.43, while Councillors William Hughes (€29,460.46), Aileen Pyne (€27,843.75), Tadhg O’Donovan (€25,768.86) and Tim Carey (€20,727.41) made up the bulk of the payments received.
Each of the five will have received a mayoral bonus for their respective year as chairperson of the council.
Councillors Seamus Coleman, Michael Hanley, Brian Power and Peter Merrigan did not claim any expenses over the five years, and so only received the compulsory allowance of €8,788.50 each, or a total of €35,154 between them.
The sum paid to Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan includes a bonus he received for his tenure as mayor in the final year of the last Council’s lifetime, but does not include a similar bonus he will later receive for his current stint as Town council chairman. Sinn Fein Cllr Seamus Coleman criticised the expenses claimed, and said that such costs should be incurred by councillors standard allowance.
“In this current climate we can’t afford to be educating councillors with rates taken from Fermoy. If a councillor wishes to attend these conferences do so by all means, but use the statutory payment issued every six months,” he said.
“Fermoy is not in a position to subsidise full time public representatives in my opinion. We have tried for five yeas to get conferences expenses taken out of the budget, and the figures show that we would have saved the council almost €100,000 over the five years,” he concluded.
Speaking to The Avondhu, Cllr Murphy defended his expenses, and said that all monies received are subject to approval from the council executive.
He said that he ‘didn’t go to conferences for the sake of it’ and said that he enjoyed the educational benefit of the seminars. He cited an anti-drugs seminar he attended in Killarney as an example of a worthwhile educational conference with benefits for the town, which required him to drive to Kerry and stay overnight.
The size of his car’s engine and the costs of overnight stay, he claimed, contributed to his expenses, and Cllr Murphy added that on average conferences charge €150 for attendance.
“You learn until the day you die,” Cllr Murphy said of the educational benefits of the conferences.
Thursday 21st May 7:57pm