Councillors not paid enough, says Senator Gerard Craughwell

Claim that €16,950 paid to local representatives does not compensate for work they do

Senator Gerard Craughwell. File photograph: Dave Meehan

Senator Gerard Craughwell. File photograph: Dave Meehan

 

City and county councillors are inadequately paid, said Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell.

“Taking the average payment made to councillors; to say we are treating local elected representatives in a shabby way is an understatement,’’ he said.

Mr Craughwell told the Seanad councillors get a representational payment of €16,950. The Government deducts PRSI from this, for which they receive no benefit, and also takes a pension levy even though they get no pension, and USC (universal social charge) although the payment was not considered a salary.

“To add insult to injury, the representation payment made to councillors no longer compensates them for the responsibility they take on and the extent of the work they do,’’ he said.

Mr Craughwell said the local government landscape had undergone historic change, with the amalgamation of some city and county councils, the creation of new municipal districts, new regional assemblies, the setting up of local community development committees, and enterprise and development strategic policy committees.

Electoral areas were now very large, with fewer councillors to do the work, he said.

Minister of State for the Environment Ann Phelan said councillors could be financially disadvantaged in representing citizens, particularly where they had to take time off their full-time jobs.

A range of financial supports were in place to help them in their work, she said. Those included the annual representational – payment of over €16,000 – which was set at 25 per cent of a Senator’s salary.

Annual expense allowances, retirement gratuity, mobile-phone allowance and an allowance for chairmen were also provided, she said.

Ms Phelan said the payment was not, and never meant to be, a salary.

She said she had no doubt the workload of local authority members would be considered as part of the review of new local government structures.