Tipperary Councillors Share in E1.5m Expenses Windfall

Forty nine councillors across County Tipperary shared in a 1.5 million Euro windfall at the taxpayers expense during 2011 as details emerge of the extent of payments to public representatives in the Premiers corridors of power.

Forty nine councillors across County Tipperary shared in a 1.5 million Euro windfall at the taxpayers expense during 2011 as details emerge of the extent of payments to public representatives in the Premiers corridors of power.

Forty nine councillors across County Tipperary shared in a 1.5 million Euro windfall at the taxpayers expense during 2011 as details emerge of the extent of payments to public representatives in the Premiers corridors of power.

E1.490,561 was stumped up by the cash strapped public to pay for the privilege of having public representatives at County Council level - the figure does not include town councils, of which there are a further seven ( Clonmel Borough Council included) adding approximately 50 more paid public representatives to the bill, although at lower rates.

The special investigation carried out by the Irish Independent Newspaper has left householders struggling to come up with cash for the recently introduced Household Charge, scratching their heads. The average payment to councillors across the whole of the county was 30,408, but a whopping 21 members were well above this average in terms of what they claimed, with the highest earner being Fine Gael Councillor Michael Fitzgerald - he was Mayor of South Tipperary during the period under scrutiny. Cllr Fitzgerald claimed a whopping 64,893 while his Mayoral counterpart in North Tipperary, Cllr Micheal Lowry (Ind) claimed 45,349, thereby making him the highest earner in that constituency.

Members of the public in Tipperary have been expressing their outrage at the figures revealed, especially since the majority of the council members also have full time jobs. At a time when services have been dramatically cut back throughout, the figures make for very stark reading with severe criticisms ensuing.

Interestingly, the two Government party members, who are implimenting the huge cuts across the country at the present time, closing hospital beds, Garda stations and army barracks, fared better than the rest with Fine Gael members taking away 493,631 between the fifteen councillors - an average of 32,908 each. Labour’s six councillors took away 195,650 Euro with an average of 32,608 going to each individual. Fianna Fail’s 11 councillors got 343,181 between them - an average of 31,198.27, while Sinn Fein got 30,102. The 14 Independents got 382,410 between them, thereby accruing an average of 27,315.

The county will be unified before the next local elections and will have streamlined public representation following the implimentation of the process by Environment Minister Phil Hogan. This means that the payments to councillors in Tipperary will likely be more regulated - there is a difference of more than 50,000 between the highest paid and the lowest earner according to the figures.

Meanwhile in Thurles, an attempt by Sinn Fein Councillor David Doran, through a Notice of Motion, to have conference expenses suspended for the remainder of the life of the council and the savings made to be spent on services, was labelled “a cheap shot” by Cllr Michael Grogan(Ind) who said that it was an attempt the grab the headlines in the press.

Cllr Doran described the issue as being a hobby horse of his and he could not understand how councillors could justify claiming huge sums of money “swanning off to conferences” while people in their town were struggling to pay mortgages, put food on the table and pay for children going back to school. He urged councillors to support his motion, but when the matter was put to a vote, the motion was defeated by 6 votes to 3 - Cllrs Doran, Noel O’Dwyer(Ind) and Jim Ryan (Ind) only supporting it.

Councillors John Kennedy and John Kenehan (both Labour) had urged for a root and branch review of budgets, rather than discussing one item in isolation, but Cllr Doran said that not attending conferences would be “a small sacrifice to pay” for the continuation of servces in the town.

Cllr Grogan interjected and described the motion as “a cheap shot which comes up every six months. This is pure rubbish and you only bring it up time after time so that you can be seen in the headlines of the Tipperary Star as the councillor who tried to get a few pound for a few clubs,” he said.

Cllrs Doran and Grogan clashed over the matter and became quite irate with raised voices reverberating throughout the council chamber. Mayor Micheal Cleary called proceedings to order on a number of occasions and eventually managed to restore civility. However, the fuse had been lit and accusations about Sinn Fein’s support of the bank guarantee and the bailout were fired at Cllr Doran by Cllr Kenehan. Cllr Evelyn Nevin informed Cllr Doran that his party was urging people not to pay the Household Charge - as a result cuts were being made to the funds. However, prior to the vote being taken, Cllr Doran replied by saying that Sinn Fein had very credible solutions to finding money in the national coffers and he offered to have the debate with Cllr Kenehan “ any day you like on the billions ye are paying to unsecured bond holders. Ye should be ashamed of yourselves, closing beds in the Community Hospital of the Assumption and hurting the elderly and the infirm. Don’t talk to me about budgets,” he said.

It was a stormy return after the summer recess.

What they Got:

South Tipperary:

Cahir Area:

Liam Ahearn (FG) 31,289

Michael Anglim (FF) 29,998

Seanie Lonergan (Lab) 31,071

Marie Murphy (FG) 32,384

Cashel Area:

Jack Crowe (FG) 38,196

Sean McCarthy (FF) 47,962

Louise McLoughlin (FG) 28,239

Tom Wood (Ind) 23,827

Clonmel Area:

Tom Acheson (FG) 26,303

Siobhan Ambrose (FF) 43,418

Pat English (Ind) 25,826

Seamus Healy (Ind) 4,591

Richie Molloy (Ind) 33,906

Michael Murphy (FG) 32,344

Darren Ryan (Lab) 45,400

Billy Shoer (Ind) 16,299

Fethard Area:

Joe Brennan (FG) 33,071

Sylvia Cooney Sheehan (FF) 25,998

John Fahey (FG) 31,652

Denis Landy (Lab) 13,226

Jimmy O’Brien (FG) 31,740

Eddie O’Meara (Ind) 30,385

Robert Fitzgerald (Lab) 10,495

Tipperary:

John Crosse (FG) 27,931

Joe Donovan (FF) 32,942

Michael Fitzgerald (FG) 64,893

Mary Hourigan (FG) 29,990

Denis Leahy (Ind) 30,099.

Total 853,487

Average 30,481.

North Tipperary:

Nenagh Area:

Jim Casey (FF) 22,493

Ger Darcy (FG) 25,070

Hughie McGrath (Ind) 28,770

Seamus Morris (SF) 30,102

Virginia O’Dowd (Lab) 32,598

Michael O’Meara (Ind) 26,874

Newport Area:

Phyll Bugler (FG) 28,329

John Carroll (FF) 27,602

John McGrath (Ind) 30,883

Jonathon Meaney (Lab) 31,502

Mattie Ryan (FF) 29,050

Templemore Area:

Pauline Coonan (FG) 37,705

John Hogan (FF) 27,046

Eddie Moran (Ind) 32,610

Denis Ryan (FG) 26,835

Michael Smith (FF) 31,918

Thurles Area

Billy Clancy (Ind) 24,051

Seamus Hanafin (FF) 24,754

John Kennedy (Labour) 44,584

Micheal Lowry (Ind) 45,349

Jim Ryan (Ind) 28,940.

Total: 637,074

Average: 30,336.