09 Dec 2021

Kilkenny Minister says councillors should be paid ‘substantially more’

Meeting: ‘Let us get paid the money that’ll let us put in 40 hours a week,’ says one Kilkenny councillor

Councillors should get “substantially more pay”, Minister of State for Local Government, John Paul Phelan, has told members of the City’s Municipal District.

Speaking at the MD’s monthly meeting last Friday in Kilkenny, Minister Phelan was responding to concerns from certain councillors around their remuneration for being local area representatives.

Independent Cllr Breda Gardner said: “Let us get paid the money that’ll let us put in 40 hours a week.”

She added that she was “looking for better wages for councillors” so they can get to all the people who need their assistance.

In response, Minister Phelan said the “existing system doesn’t adequately reflect the work they do”.

The Carlow/Kilkenny TD added that any increase would be “controversial” and said: “I’ll be slated on Joe Duffy for a month if councillors get a rise.”

The Minister admitted it should not be full time pay but should be a basic pay for a “proper day’s work”.

Fianna Fáil Cllr Joe Malone told the meeting that he does “a serious amount of hours” and added: “Talk about minimum wage, that’s what we are probably on when you think about it”.

“We are expected to be at everything. You don’t turn up at a funeral, you do turn up. We are expected to here, there and everywhere.”

Minister Phelan added: “Being a councillor was never intended originally to be a full time job and it shouldn’t be. Politics will take up as much of your life as you are willing to give it.

“I do think councillors should get substantially more pay.”

In November of last year, Minister Phelan told a Seanad debate that regulations to introduce new measures to support councillors in all local authorities had been signed off.

These new measures included a new allowance for elected members of all local authorities worth €1,000 per annum.

The provisions were backdated to July 1 of 2017.

There is also an optional vouched annual expenses allowance worth up to €5,000 per annum that councillors may opt for in place of an existing unvouched fixed rate annual allowance of approximately €2,500.

When asked what remuneration councillors receive, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Local Government said: “The current amount of the Representational Payment is €16,891 [*this does not include the new allowance for members of Municipal Districts and Area Committees worth €1,000 per annum]

“The representational payment was introduced in January 2002.

“Since that time it has been linked to the basic salary of a Senator.

In line with adjustments made to a Senator’s salary, the representational payment was increased on 1 January 2018 by €246 to €16,891 per annum.

“In addition councillors receive expenses allowances designed to defray in a structured way reasonable expenses incurred by them in attending council meetings, conferences, training events, etc.

“The amount that each councillor receives varies depending upon individual circumstances (distances travelled, number of meetings/events attended etc).

“The €1,000 allowance reflects additional work carried out by elected members following the local government reforms of 2014. The allowance is taxable in the normal way.”

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