Friday 23 February 2018

Hogan's reforms are no match for the level of council excess

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan
Eamon Delaney

Eamon Delaney

This week's revelations in the Irish Independent about the salaries and often huge expenses of our city and county councillors are a depressing reminder that, despite all the talk about reform, we still have a system of entitlement as regards the public purse. Worse still, this is happening at a local level, where public representatives are supposed to be close to the people. Indeed, we may well have been looking too much at Leinster House and not enough at our councils, and all their myriad boards and overlapping authorities, for the real waste and dysfunction in our political system.

The monies, which representatives of all parties have been happy to gouge out of our beleaguered finances, come at a time when our roads go unfixed and public facilities are run down due to an alleged shortage of council funding. We cannot introduce traffic-calming measures or clean our streets properly but we are paying for councillors to go on courses for using Facebook, radio media training, and paying for them to go to irrelevant conferences and on foreign junkets, which they barely report on – and when they do it's in indecipherable accounts that no one reads. A councillor is supposed to be a part-time job but it can remunerate at a whopping level, when expenses are stacked up.

Councillors everywhere have been on the gravy train. The sums may not be large but they all add up and give the lie to the notion of a new Spartan and conscientious approach to public money.

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