Mayor paid €121,872 was left 'exhausted'
THE best-paid local representative in Connacht has defended the €121,872 he earned across 2012 and 2013, saying that he actually agreed to a reduction in his pay.
Cyril Burke, a prominent Fine Gael councillor from Taoiseach Enda Kenny's base in Castlebar, Co Mayo, saw through a 12pc cut in pay for the position of mayor of Mayo while he held the role.
This saw him lose out on an additional €3,000 in payments that he would have been entitled to during the second half of his mayoral term.
Mr Burke insisted that the sums earned by him represented good value for money for the taxpayer, given the amount of work a mayor is expected to do.
He said his year as Mayo's first citizen came at a huge personal and professional cost to him and that he would be reluctant to take the position again if it was offered to him.
"You miss out on an awful lot. My kids were playing football and I missed out on all of that. I missed out on opportunities at work," Cllr Burke, who is a partner in an estate agency, told the Irish Independent.
"I was basically gone the whole year. You are at the beck and call of everybody.
"I put 35,000 or 40,000 miles on the car in the course of the year. If it was offered to me to be chairman of Mayo County Council in June coming up, after the year I went through as mayor before, I don't think I would take it.
"It is such a taxing job. By the end of the term I was exhausted."
In addition to his basic yearly salary of €16,657 from Mayo County Council, Cllr Burke also received:
* A taxable council chairman's allowance of €47,000.
* €10,011 in expenses for attending conferences and events on behalf of the council.
* Expenses and allowances totalling €11,413 for chairing the Border, Midland and West Regional Assembly.
* Expenses of €5,341 for attending meetings and events for the West Regional Authority.
Other high earners in Connacht included independent councillor Tom Crosbie from Co Roscommon, who received €98,845 in 2012 and 2013, and fellow independent Terry O'Flaherty from Galway city, who received €105,469 in the same period.
In common with Cllr Burke, both councillors Crosbie and O'Flaherty served terms as mayors of their respective local authorities.
They also claimed expenses for being members of their regional authority.