Call to increase councillor pay

Call to increase councillor pay
Cllr Chris O'LearyPicture: Eddie O'Hare

FORMER Sinn Féin Lord Mayor Chris O'Leary has called for a pay rise for councillors, saying he took home just €15,000 during his year as First Citizen of the City.

Supporting proposals from his party to increase councillors pay, Cllr O’Leary said that it was an honour to be an elected representative but the hidden costs and low pay put it beyond the reach of some people.

Councillors are currently paid an allowance of €16,891 per annum, with expenses bringing it closer to €23,000, before tax and other deductions.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin O'Broin is currently investigating the costs of raising the allowance closer to the average industrial wage and paying councillors between €30,000 and €40,000. Raising it by €15,000 would cost approximately €22 million across the state.

While many councillors have additional day jobs, the role of councillor is widely seen as a full-time job with part-time pay.

Mr O'Leary said that he doesn't want to "whinge" about his pay, but said that there are costs associated with being a councillor that people do not see. He said people might not realise that councillors pay is liable for standard taxes and deductions like USC, and there are additional costs associated with doing your work. For example, he said that his annual phone bill could be more than €2,500, but he can only claim €600 or so back.

While the Lord Mayor earns a salary of €30,000 - down from more than €110,000 a few years ago - he had to take a year's sabbatical from his job, miss out on a year of stamps payments, and ended up only earning about €15,000 by the time every deduction was taken out.

"I'm not griping. I did my job and I was proud to do it. I have no regrets. That's what I took on and my family is committed to it and they understand" he said.

However, he said that some councillors would not be in a position to do the same.

"A large amount of councillors don't work - they can't do two jobs. There is a load of minimum wage councillors," he said.

He said that pushing the wage for councillors towards the average industrial wage would allow people to treat it as a full-time job and "put them on a footing to provide the best for people."

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