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Nine politicians share €200k payoff on quitting council

NINE Dublin city councillors received over €200,000 in gratuity payments after leaving the local authority.

The lump sum is paid to politicians across the country when they leave a city or county council -- even if they go straight into another job.

The former Dublin city representatives were paid a total of €202,948.43 after leaving the council between 2007 and 2009.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's brother Maurice received an instalment of €31,518.96 after he lost his Fianna Fail council seat in the Dublin central ward in 2009.

Fine Gael's Catherine Byrne, who was given a frontbench position in leader Enda Kenny's reshuffle this week, was paid €21,020.30 in 2007. Ms Byrne was elected to the Dail in May that year and had to give up her local authority position.

The biggest amount -- €43,851.24 -- was paid to Fianna Fail's Michael Donnelly after he lost his council seat in the June local elections in 2009. Mr Donnelly had served as a councillor from 1982.

Other representatives who received the money were former Fianna Fail candidate Eibhlin Byrne (€20,245.77), ex-Independent councillors Bronwen Maher (€19,704.97) and Mick Rafferty (€14,351.43), Labour's Anne Carter (€19,183.97), Fine Gael's Paddy McCartan (€6,873.77) and Nicky Kehoe (€26,197.79) of Sinn Fein.



LUMP

Mr Kehoe was given the sum even though he voluntarily gave up his council seat.

The payments have become a substantial expense for the country's city and county councils, with many long-serving representatives stepping aside.

The maximum amount is four times the representational payment -- that is the salary councillors receive -- and it is payable after 20 years' service.

The minimum amount of service required to qualify for the gratuity is two years. It is automatically paid on retirement "at or after age 50".

Where a councillor steps aside or is not re-elected before the age of 50, the gratuity will be paid when the person reaches that age and "will be based on the representational payment applicable at that point".

That means, for example, younger politicians who went on to take Dail seats will be entitled to a lump sum when they reach the age of 50.

Following last year's council elections, former representatives countrywide received more than €4.76m in gratuity money. Payments ranged between just under €7,000 to more than €51,000 depending on length of service.

comurphy@herald.ie


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