Friday 13 December 2019

Bill for parachute payments to former councillors rises €840k

Gerry McLoughlin.
Gerry McLoughlin.

Shane Phelan and Wayne O'Connor

A FURTHER €840,000 in parachute payments to former councillors have been paid out, the Irish Independent has learned.

This brings to €12.5m the total amount of so-called gratuity payments made to part-time politicians who lost their seats or retired following the local elections in May.

The controversial payments - which can reach €65,000 at the higher end - are made in recognition of long service and to cushion the blow of leaving politics.

Last week the Irish Independent revealed some €11.6m in payments had been made to former part-time politicians - a figure swelled by the abolition of town and borough councils, which forced hundreds of local representatives to retire.

Since then further sums have been confirmed in Clare, Limerick and Cork.

The bulk of the latest payouts were made to former councillors in Co Clare.

Some 28 payments totalling over €670,000, were made to former county and town councillors across the county.

The highest payment went to former county mayor Patricia McCarthy. The independent politician received €61,781 after serving 35 years.

Another independent, Tommy Brennan, received €59,837 after 35 years during which he served as both a town and county councillor. The third-highest payment was made to former Fine Gael councillor Sonny Scanlon, who received €57,696 and had been on the council since 1985.

All of the payments, which are worked out using a complicated formula, are subject to tax and the universal social charge.

Of the Co Clare payments, some €414,157 related to former county councillors.

Sums paid out in respect of former councillors with Ennis, Kilkee, Kilrush and Shannon town councils totalled €257,684.

In Cork, payment details were released in respect of the former Skibbereen and Macroom town councils.

The largest of these was made to former Fianna Fail Skibbereen councillor Donal McCarthy, who received €19,132.

In Limerick, parachute payments were finalised for two more former local representatives, one of whom was former Labour and independent city councillor Gerry 'Ginger' McLoughlin.

The former rugby international received a gratuity payment of €33,301.

Former Fine Gael Limerick county councillor David Naughton received a gratuity payment of €53,392.

He had served as a councillor for the Rathkeale area since 1991 before deciding not to run in this year's local elections.

The release of the latest figures means only a few local authorities have yet to disclose or finalise the gratuity payments made to former councillors.

Figures are still awaited from Dublin City Council, local authorities in Co Kerry and Co Donegal, Belturbet and Cootehill town councils in Co Cavan, and Midleton Town Council in Co Cork.

The gratuity payments have proved controversial as they have been made despite the fact the majority of the country's remaining local authorities are technically insolvent and have to borrow money to fund day-to-day services.

The Department of Environment had set aside €20.7m for gratuities arising out of this year's local elections.

Younger councillors who bowed out will have to wait until they are 50 to draw down their payments. In most council areas, the payments for ex-councillors under the age of 50 have yet to be calculated.

Irish Independent

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