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Strategic Policy Committee chairpersons could lose €8k expenses if bid is success

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THE chairpersons of Strategic Policy Committees will see their allowances for the post disappear if a bid by Fianna Fáil councillors to slash the allowances to zero is successful today.

The five chairs of the five SPCs earn € 500 per meeting and a € 6,000 annual flat fee on top of their normal council expenses, according to council figures given to Cllr Eoghan O'Brien (FF) who tabled a question on the issue.

Cllr O'Brien believes the allowances are not justified in the current economic climate and is seeking to do away with allowances for SPC chairpersons altogether at this week's council budget meeting.

With most committees meeting three or four times since the summer of 2010, the five chairs have all made over € 8,000 so far in extra expenses on top of their regular council payments.

Cllr O'Brien said the extra allowances amount to over € 1,000 per hour that the committees have met and are an 'absolute waste of money'.

But Cllr David O'Connor, one of the five SPC chairpersons, has mounted a strong defence of the work of the committees, which he said are crucial in planning for the county's future.

He described the work of SPCs as 'good work but hidden work'.

He said: 'It's the grind that goes on behind the scenes. It's the non-glamour stuff and the non-headline stuff but it sets the future policy of the council.'

Cllr Clare Daly (SP) who chairs the Housing SPC, said she would have 'no problem' in voting for her allowances to be cut but said that the Fianna Fáil councillors' actions were a 'distraction' from the real issues.

'This is just a smokescreen from Fianna Fáil to hide the real problem which is the cuts in Government funding of councils,' Cllr Daly said.

She added: 'It's a publicity stunt and disgusting really. I'm happy to vote for it, there's no problem but this would save 30 or 40 grand – if we want to make a real saving why not look at something like the € 500,000 a year we are paying in loans for land bought for the Nevitt dump?'

Cllr May McKeon (NP), Cllr Clare Daly (SP), Cllr Tom Kelleher (Lab), Cllr Kieran Dennison (FG) and Cllr David O'Connor (NP) are the current chairs of the five SPCs.