A €4,000-a-year Fianna Fail councillor who lives in Australia should step down from his position, an Independent politician insisted today.
Wexford town councillor Kevin Dwyer moved Down Under before Christmas in search of work but held on to his elected post in Ireland.
His fellow New Ross Town Council members this week voted by a majority to extend his leave period to 12 months.
But non-party representative Bobby Dunphy told the Herald Mr Dwyer should take the “honourable decision” and vacate his seat.
Mr Dunphy said “at some stage a councillor has to hold his hands up and tell his constituents ‘I'm sorry, I can't represent you properly, I'm going to resign’.”
He added: “He's in Australia. It's very hard to communicate from there. We don't have Skype in the chamber. We had a very important motion and Kevin Dwyer was not there to indicate whether he supported it or not.”
He said the absent representative should not have asked his fellow councillors to grant a further grace period but instead made the decision himself.
As a town councillor, Mr Dwyer gets a salary of about €4,000 a year, which he is entitled to even if he is not present.
The council did not return a call when the Herald inquired if he had foregone the money.
Mr Dwyer asked council members by email for an extension of his time away from the chamber. He said he was unable to attend meetings due to work commitments in Australia.
He asked for approval, in accordance with Section 18 (4)(b) of the Local Government Act 2001, to extend his leave period to 12 months.
Independent councillor John Dwyer asked his colleagues to “have some compassion” and allow the extension.
Six members voted in favour and the motion was passed.
The Herald’s efforts to contact Mr Dwyer by phone and through Facebook proved unsuccessful. Before he left for Australia, he was self-employed for 15 years as a plasterer and roofing contractor.
He said at the time: “It has been a while since I have been in employment and I am not able to get work.”
He added: “If I get sponsorship I will go back in January and in June, when the kids finished school, I hope to bring my family over.”