More than €1m paid out to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors in 2018

by Gary Ibbotson

The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have published the expenses paid out to all sitting councillors for the year 2018.

The council have also disclosed the attendances of councillors to all monthly and special meetings.

For the 40 sitting councillors, the council paid out a total of €1,036,979 in yearly payments and expenses.

Each councillor is allocated a representational payment and area allowance of €18,433.23 if they serve for the full year.

Other incurred expenses which are paid back include mobile and broadband expenses, travel and subsistence and training and seminar fees.

Sitting chairs of special committees and the chair of the council (Cathaoirleach) also receive additional expenses.

Green Party councillor and current Cathaoirleach, Ossian Smyth was allocated an allowance of €16,583.33 as chairperson and was paid a total of €40,880.25 in 2018 – this is including the area allowance, travel and subsistence and mobile expenses.

“Last year, the councillors elected me the first Green Party chairman (Cathaoirleach) of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

“My job is to chair all the meetings and represent the council at events throughout the County.

“I expect that I will officiate at about 500 events during the year.

“Since 2001, the chairperson or Mayor of each county in Ireland is paid an allowance which is higher than that paid to other councillors,” Smyth said in a statement.

“There is a dedicated budget allocation totaling €23,400 in terms of Members expenses and Canteen expenses that is available to the Cathaoirleach of the day,” says a spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

“Commonly it is used for special events related to the functions of the Office of the Cathaoirleachs including hosting Cathaoirleach community events, hosting dignitaries, covering Cathaoirleachs awards ceremonies and so forth.”

Pat Hand, the chairperson of the Environmental Special Committee received an allowance of €5,000.04.

This is similar to other chairpersons, Shay Brennan, Lettie McCarthy, Hugh Lewis and Barry Ward.

“As chair of Environmental SPC I get on allowance to Chair the committee.

“The allowance is €6000 but we agreed to reduce it to €5000. Also, I chair other committees in which I don’t get an allowance for,” says Hand.

Travel and subsistence payments are automatically calculated according to how many meetings the councillor attends and where their home address is located.

Overall, 26 councillors incurred travel expenses exceeding €6,000 with Labour councillor Peter O’Brien, who attended 96% of relevant meetings, slightly recording the most with €6,225.99.

In a statement, O’Brien said: “As a Councillor I have always been open and transparent.

“Every year I published my expenses and payments from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on all my social media accounts and newsletters.

“The 2018 Payment reflects my 96% attendance record, one of the highest on the council.”

Out of the 40 sitting councillors who had served for the entire year, seven attended every meeting available – which includes monthly council meetings and special committees. These include Jim Gildea, John Kennedy, Lettie McCarthy, Michael Merrigan, Denis O’Callaghan, Seamas O’Neill and Carrie Smyth.

Independent councillor, Lynsey McGovern attended 38% of possible meetings – the least amount among the councillors.

“I have always made myself available to the electoral of Glencullen/Sandyford who elected me to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in 2014,” says McGovern.

“Due to family illness over the past 12 months I have not always been able to attend these meetings but wish to assure that I have diligently applied myself to support the collective decisions of the Council.

“The majority of a Councillors work takes place in the community amongst the people and not in the Council chamber. I have done my very best to represent their interests both locally and nationally and will continue to be a strong advocate for them.

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