Councillors who lost seat in line for windfall


GRATUITIES FOR LOST SEATS:194 councillors to get over €3,500 per year since 2000

ALMOST 200 councillors who lost their seats in the local elections are eligible for a retirement gratuity of €3,520.80 for every year of service since 2000.

Tax is not deducted at source but the recipient is required to list the amount – which will be paid as a lump sum – on a self-assessment basis in his or her annual tax return.

For members of city or county councils who served from 2000 but who stepped down or lost their seats at the recent local elections “the amount payable would be of the order of €32,000”, according to a spokesman for the Department of the Environment.

“Someone who became a councillor in 1985 and has 24 years of unbroken service would receive of the order of €42,000.

“Someone who became a councillor in 1979 and has 30 years of unbroken service would be paid of the order of €46,000.

“These calculations are based on county/city councillors, the level for town councillors is significantly lower,” the spokesman added.

There is also a lower rate for service prior to 2000.

A total of 194 councillors lost their seats in last Friday’s local elections.

Some 96 of these were Fianna Fáil councillors, 36 Fine Gael, 25 Independents, 13 Greens, nine Sinn Féin, three Labour and two Others. One high-profile casualty was Fianna Fáil’s Maurice Ahern, who was first elected to Dublin City Council in 1999, and should be eligible for a minimum lump sum of approximately €32,000.

Those with shorter service include Green Party’s Niall Ó Brolcháin, who was elected to Galway City Council in 2004.

He has now lost his seat, and should be eligible for a retirement payment of approximately €17,600.

The gratuity is calculated at the rate of 4/20ths of a councillor’s representational payment (on retirement) for each year of service from May 2000 up to a maximum 20 years, with a requirement for a minimum of two years’ service.

Subject to certain conditions, the gratuity is payable on a councillor’s retirement “whether voluntary, or due to failure to be elected, death or ill health”.

Representational Payments to councillors as of September 1st, 2008, were as follows: City or County Councils, €17,604; Borough Councils and Athlone, Bray, Dundalk, Ennis and Tralee Town Councils, €8,802; members of other town councils are paid within a range of €4,401 and €2,401.

The spokesman said funds for the gratuity are provided by the local authorities who make provision for it in their estimates and he was not aware of any question of the money not being paid out.

However, it is believed that the €250,000 fund set aside by Clare County Council is not likely to be enough to meet the pay-offs required for nine outgoing members who will not be part of the new 32-member council.

Of the five councillors who failed to get re-elected in Clare, outgoing Fianna Fáil councillor, Peter Considine is set to receive the highest amount of more than €35,000 having served as a councillor since 1991 (after a brief spell previously in 1974).

Cllr Considine remains on Ennis Town Council.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Prendeville, who lost out in the Kilrush electoral area but was re-elected to Kilrush Town Council, can expect a gratuity in excess of €35,000 after serving on the county council for 18 years.

Fianna Fáil councillor Bernard Hanrahan, who lost out in Ennis East, became a member of Clare County Council in 1995 and can also expect a gratuity in excess of €30,000.