CLARE County Councillors have dismissed claims they are on a “gravy train”.
Councillor Pat McMahon said councillors are not benefiting in terms of their expense claims. The Newmarket-on-Fergus councillor told The Clare Champion he knows of several professions who are earning much more.
“I know councillors are easy meat and we can be taken out as part of a ‘one-day wonder’. In my honest opinion, we are only getting what is laid down by the minister – no more no less.
“Councillors have no say whatsoever in terms of what expenses or allowances they are paid,” he said.
Councillor Bill Slattery outlined even if he won the National Lottery, he would still like to work as a councillor, as he isn’t doing the job for the money.
The Fine Gael councillor said he gets great satisfaction from being able to help a constituent who has a genuine concern or difficulty. Political representation is part of his family’s tradition, as his grandfather, Bill Murphy, was a Dáil deputy for almost 20 years.
“I have a passion for helping people and I like working as a councillor. I can often get a phonecall from a person at 10pm at night.
“I am one of eight councillors who are representing people from Loop Head to Ballyvaughan,” he said.
Councillor Cathal Crowe, who received €24,696 for his work as a councillor in 2016, in addition to his salary as a national school teacher, insisted he isn’t in politics for the money.
In fact, Councillor Crowe claimed the money he earns is not financially rewarding in terms of the huge amount of time he spends on doing representational work.
“I am passionate about my involvement in local politics and I refute suggestions councillors are on a gravy train. I am often out at public and other meetings six nights-a-week and it is often 10.30pm when I get home.
“I don’t think the public are too angry about what I am being paid because they elected me three times. However, this is not something I take for granted and I will continue to represent all my constituents.
“Most of the councillors who are full-time are at a stage in life when their mortgage is paid or they don’t have young children. Councillors deal with a massive volume of work and have to keep up to date will all kinds of issues,” he said.
He also defended his €700 expense claim to purchase a new iPhone, which he said he uses to receive all his council emails and communication.
Stating this phone is necessary to complete his work, the Parteen National School teacher pointed out he effectively runs an office from his home with his phone and laptop, without any State allowance.
By Dan Danaher