Tuesday 22 January 2019

Increasing councillors' wages 'absolutely justified', Independent Cllr claims

Councillor Nial Ring. Photo: Tony Gavin
Councillor Nial Ring. Photo: Tony Gavin
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

We can "absolutely justify" increasing local councillors' wages, Niall Ring has said.

The Independent representative said that he earns a basic wage of €16,500 per year for working up to 30 hours a week and feels it should be reassessed.

Cllr Ring said: "If you undervalue yourself what message is that giving to your community?"

The North-Inner City representative gave an insight into his workload on Newstalk Breakfast this morning.

"We have a Dublin City Council meeting every month, which takes three and a quarter hours, we get a 360 page fact of items we have to go through to discuss items.

"I'm on a ministerial committee in relation to Moore Street, I'm on the finance committee.

"Tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock I have to go to committee meetings, I have to get across town from Ballybough to City Hall, I'll have to leave at around 7 o'clock to make sure I'm on time for that meeting, that could go on until 11 and that's a half day gone.

"I'm on a commemoration committee, naming committee and fire brigade meetings, then in your own local area - which takes up most of your time - you've got residents association meetings.

"For example in Croke Park we had meetings over whether we'll have The Rolling Stones, in our area we have the gang feuds going on so you have taskforces going on that involve a huge number of meetings, the Magdalene Launderies situation," Cllr Ring said.

He continued to say: "We have so much to do and we get around €300 or so a week, after tax that is about €200, if you did 20 hours that's about a tenner an hour.

"If a councillor says they're quite happy to work for a tenner an hour to do 20 hours a week then maybe they are undervaluing themselves and that in turn is a reflection of how they feel about their constituents.

"Can I just say €66,000 for a senator and €93,000 for a TD, there's no comparison and I know it's part time but is a Senator a full-time job?...

"When you say should we get an increase and can we justify an increase? I would say absolutely we can justify an increase.

"I'm not calling for an increase but I do think let's have a proper valuation of what we actually do."

Fianna Fail Councillor Kenneth O'Flynn

Cork City Councillor Kenneth O'Flynn disagreed with Cllr Ring's comments and said he thinks the  money could be better spent elsewhere.

"I have been a member of the city council since 2008 and was re-elected in 2009 and was re-elected at the last local elections - I knew what the salary was...

"I didn't get involved politics to make money out of it, to make a business out of it and profit my lifestyle.

"I got involved in politics to change people's lives, to help my community and to get my city working better.

"When the councillor says should we get an increase but you're only after saying earlier that there are 620 people on trolleys in hospitals around the country, I have 5,000 people on housing lists at the moment  in Cork City alone and we have roads that are disintegrating," the Fianna Fail representative said.
Cllr Ring claimed that despite the gap between the wages of councillors and TDs, many people don't see any difference between their roles.

He said: "TDs are on €93,000 and Senators are on €66,000.

"I go into local pubs in my area and nobody there would really distinguish between a TD and a councillor.

"They think, 'this person is here to serve me' and that is what we want to do but if you undervalue yourself what message is that giving to your community?"

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