Cash-strapped Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council is paying nearly €40,000 a year to provide free private car parking for staff as local senior citizens who need their car for mobility face a potential annual parking bill of more than €800.
The council pays for 60 car parking spaces in Bloomfields Shopping Centre car park for its staff, county manager Owen Keegan admitted earlier this year.
Mr Keegan, who has clashed with local residents and retailers in Dun Laoghaire over the council's tough parking regime, justified the free car parking for council staff on the grounds of efficiency.
"It is important in the interests of operational efficiency that staff who need their cars in the course of their work should have access to convenient parking.
In response to a letter from local resident Paul Howard, who had suggested that council staff could easily use the West Pier car park, Mr Keegan responded: "I would not consider the West Pier car park to be especially convenient."
During the first seven months of this year, local residents, shoppers and traders paid more than €3.5m in parking fees and fines.
According to Vincent English of the local Combined Residents' Association, parking is particularly problematic for seniors who need their car for mobility -- especially daily mass-goers who could end up paying €624 a year for the privilege.
The potential annual bill is calculated on the basis of a parking permit (€40 a year), daily mass attendance (€624) a weekly shopping trip (€104) and a monthly medical appointment (€48).