Healy-Rae brothers got €110,000 for year on council
Brothers defend payments claims as 'high but legitimate'
TWO councillor sons of Jackie Healy-Rae were paid almost €110,000 between them for one year's service on their local council.
An Irish Independent investigation reveals Danny and Michael Healy-Rae, sons of the Kerry South TD, were paid a total of €196,000 for 2008/2009.
The figures make the brothers two of the top earners among the country's 883 county and city councillors -- who were paid a total of €75.6m over the two years.
Michael Healy-Rae, during his time as Mayor of Kerry, claimed almost €20,000 in conference expenses in one year - but that figure does not include costly conference fees. He received €74,342 in 2008 and €39,663 the following year, with his brother Danny receiving €32,400 and €49,376 for each year respectively.
Michael last night admitted the spending was high but defended it by saying a Kerry mayor wouldn't be doing his job properly if he didn't travel across the country.
Yesterday, the Irish Independent revealed councillors were paid more than the average wage for each of the last two years with the average annual payment coming in at €32,398 -- almost €3,800 more than the average industrial wage.
Payments were made up of a taxable representational payment, annual allowance, mobile phone allowance, a conference allowance and various payments for holding positions of seniority.
Those on the boards of colleges, VECs, regional bodies and health forums also receive additional payments.
But Kerry County Council and Michael Healy-Rae said he was not 'doubling up' on his conference claims as documents show he attended two conferences in the space of two days, both of two days' duration.
"He may have attended part of the event only," a council official said. "He may also have travelled directly from one event to another without coming home."
And Michael claimed €1,064 worth of mileage to attend two conferences in two days. But, when contacted yesterday, he went through his diary and pointed out exactly where he went on the dates in question.
During the time he spent as Kerry mayor from January to June in 2008, he went to 38 conferences and events, claiming a total of €19,595 in travel and subsistence costs. One Dublin event was in honour of Cardinal Sean Brady at a cost of €383, while he was paid the same amount for attending the press launch of Comortas Peile by fellow Kerryman Paidi O Se.
But, while admitting the costs were high, he said it was down to his heavy workload and said he often had to return to Kerry from events across the country.
"They were high but you're never at home," he said. "You'd be away five or six nights of the week if you're to do your job as mayor properly. It's all very legitimate and it's all accounted for."
He was paid a total of €74,342 in 2008, which was made up of:
- €9,243 in annual allowance.
- €17,177 in representation payments.
- €22,465 in conference expenses.
- €3,802 for foreign travel.
- €19,236 mayor's allowance.
- €600 mobile costs and €1,818 from the HSE southern regional health forum.
But the cost of running the mayor's office in Kerry is high when compared to others across the country. Cllr Tom Fleming, who was mayor for the first six months of 2009, received a payment of €81,639 -- with €32,175 going on conference spending.
When asked about the €1,064 mileage claim over two days, Michael Healy-Rae said he had to attend a conference in Dublin on January 14, 2008, be back in Kerry for a council meeting the next morning and travel back to Dublin that evening.
"I live in Kilgarvan," he said. "I went to a place where I was invited to go to and came back to Kerry because I was obliged to do so. Being mayor of Kerry, there's a thing called a CPG, a corporate policy group.
"I'm the chairman of that group, there was a meeting held the following day in Kerry that I had to attend and I had to chair the meeting.
"I was in Dublin the day before, the following day I was in Kerry, and later on that night I had to go because I had an invitation from Trevor Sargent to go to Dublin again the following day."