Ex-mayors say huge sacrifices justified their six-figure deals
THE best-paid local politicians in Leinster both earned six-figure sums during the past two years.
Topping the list was former Kildare mayor Micheal 'Spike' Nolan, who earned a total of €135,040 for the years 2012 and 2013.
His Fine Gael colleague Naoise O Muiri came a close second in the province, receiving payments totalling €126,325 in the same two-year period, during which he was Lord Mayor of Dublin.
The two councillors spoke of huge time pressure and personal sacrifices associated with taking the role, with Mr Nolan saying he did up to 80 hours a week.
Nevertheless, both said they would have no hesitation in doing another term in the future.
Payments to both councillors were boosted significantly by mayoral allowances, which are taxable.
In the case of Mr O Muiri, this allowance totalled €71,000 during his spell as the capital's first citizen.
Mr O Muiri said he had no problem with the figures being disclosed and that they were a matter of public record.
The position of Lord Mayor was effectively a full-time job, he said. Mr O Muiri said he had to take time out from his software technology business to fulfil the role and described his year in office as "absolutely helter-skelter".
"In reality, it is a seven-day-a-week job. The weekend, in particular, is busy because a lot of community activity happens at the weekend.
"There would be a lot of calls on the Lord Mayor's time to be involved," he said. "Saying that, it was a huge honour to do it. I was delighted to do it. That is the bottom line.
"It is a busy role and you are always on call.
"I would be delighted to do it again if the opportunity arose, but it tends to be a once-off in reality." He said taking a year away from work commitments carried a risk, as he was self-employed.
Mr O Muiri also insisted that the role of Lord Mayor was much more than a ceremonial one – and he was proud of achievements such as launching a digital masterplan for Dublin, and being involved in a tourism taskforce for the capital.
Meanwhile, Mr Nolan, who is based in Newbridge, Co Kildare, served two back-to-back terms as mayor of his county.
The annual mayoral allowance paid by Kildare County Council is just over €50,000-a-year. Mr Nolan, who has been a full-time public representative since 2009, served as mayor from June 2011 until May of last year, the first time in 60 years someone had done back-to-back terms in the county.
"I gave it between 60 and 80 hours a week practically for two years," he said. "There is expenses and all of that. Like everybody else I have paid my taxes, I have paid my PRSI, I paid my universal social charge, I paid my pension levies.
"It is not a case of getting this money, sticking it in your a**e pocket and two fingers to everyone else. It is not like that at all.
"I think the media on this portrays it that way. But I have absolutely nothing to hide on this," he said.
Mr Nolan, a father of three, said he had "practically missed out" on two years of his children's lives.
However, he insisted he had no regrets. "Would I do it again? Yes I would.
"But I have had two years of it and it is not something I would do for an awful long time again."