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John Drennan: Councillors petition for pay rise

Avaricious councillors have petitioned the Oireachtas looking for more money, pensions and long service increments.

In an astonishing submission to Oireachtas members last week, the executive and officer board of the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA), which represents almost 900 members of city, county and borough councils, presented TDs and senators with a long list of demands.

These included:

- A pension scheme for councillors.

- Increased renumeration (cash) for more power and responsibilities.

- PRSI changes so as to avail of social welfare benefits.

l Long service increments to recognise experience.

- An enhanced retirement gratuity scheme.

- And more secretarial assistance.

The request was made within the context of a further demand that the new household charge and water charges should mean that "local authority members must be given a greater role in where this money is spent".

Sources close to Environment Minister Phil Hogan told the Sunday Independent: "If councillors come into this department looking for more money and pensions they will get the gate.''

It is believed Mr Hogan will shortly publish a White Paper on local government reform outlining plans to rationalise and reduce the number of councils.

However, the group of councillors, none of whom have come to national attention before, told TDs and senators that far from amalgamating our cumbersome local government structure "the number of councillors" should be "increased in some areas".

They also demanded the "devolution of more powers" in areas such as Leader companies and that "the vital role'' of councillors on local quangos and State boards would be "protected".

Councillors attempted to justify their demands on the grounds that "in the future a reduction in Dail representatives and the loss of the Seanad" will mean "the local authority member will have an increased role and work-load''.

Sunday Independent