CITY councillors have defended their earnings, as published in the Irish Independent, pointing out that payments are subject to income tax and levies.
Councillors are paid €17,000 per annum, topped up by generous allowances. Former Mayor of Limerick, Cllr John Gilligan, who claimed €55,740 during 2008 (he was elected mayor in June of that year), received €54,116 in 2009.
“During my first eight years as an Independent councillor I never went anywhere at the city council’s expense.
“I never used conference expenses but that was my own decision. As mayor, I was away on a trip just once, to Liverpool”.
Addressing his payments of €60,502 in 2008 and €37,836 in 2009, Cllr Ger Fahy, points out that his mayoralty extended into the first six months of 2008.
Elected in June 2007, he took a year’s unpaid leave from work when elected mayor.
“I wanted to make a full commitment to the mayoralty and while the mayor’s salary is taxed, you do get allowances.
“In 2002, Representation Allowances were granted – this is payment that is fully taxed – that is €17,000. Then there are expenses and allowances for attending meetings and payments for chairing Strategic Policy Committees – the government dictates the amount of this allowance.
“It’s widely acknowledged that the role of a councillor is becoming more demanding. It’s important to be accountable and you have to be accessible to people when issues arise. I’ve resigned from my job and I can see that in the near future councillors will be working on a full time basis for their constituencies”.
Cllr Diarmuid Scully, whose payments for 2008 were estimated at €32,510, and €34,126 for 2009, told the Limerick Post that he is “rather choosy and discerning” about the conferences he attends.
“It was stated in one national newspaper some years ago that I was paid in the region of €80,000 when in fact the figure was €30,000.
“I’m chair of the Economic Policy and Future Planning Strategic Policy Committee and also of the City Development Board. If you went back a few years, you’d see that my expenses were then lower but while expenses for conferences have been cut by half, there is now a wider range of conferences, which are beneficial to councillors whose role nowadays is effectively a full time one”.
In 2009, Cllr Kevin Kiely, Mayor from June, received a total of €57,506; Cllr Michael Hourigan, €39,420; Cllr Joe Leddin, €37,165; Cllr Jim Long €36,628; Cllr Ger McLoughlin, €36,608; Cllr Maria Byrne, €32,984; Cllr Pat Kennedy, €34,099; Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon, €33,494; Cllr Kathleen Leddin, €33,399; Cllr Denis McCarthy, €20,073; Cllr Orla McLoughlin, €17,082; Cllr Tom Shortt, €15,589; Cllr Cormac Hurley, €13,625; Cllr Maurice Quinlivan €12,646. Councillors McCarthy, Shortt, Hurley, Orla McLoughlin and Quinlivan were first elected in June 2009.