Over half a million euro will be paid to former Dundalk Town and Louth County Councillors who have retired from politics or who lost their seat in the local elections held last May, The Dundalk Democrat has learned.
Figures obtained by this newspaper show that a total of €520,613.21 will be shared between 24 former councillors in gratuity payments.
Former Independent Councillor Martin Bellew received the highest payment - €57,741
Mr Bellew, who served on the council for over 29 years, refused to comment on the payment when contacted by The Democrat.
Former Ardee based Councillor Finnan McCoy was second on the list, receiving €55,522.
“Being a councillor was a full time job for me,” said Mr McCoy this week.
“I don’t think people realise the amount of work a councillor does. I would have rathered a pension system.” Fine Gael stalwart Jim Lennon received a payout of €53,370.
“I was never in the game for money,” said Mr Lennon.
“I started when there was no payments whatsoever.
“ I would much prefer a pension system, but that is not in place. I am still being inundated with local issues.”
Former Independent councillor Jim Ryan, who served for 15 years, received €40,474.
Eamonn O’Boyle received €16,634 for his 10 years of service on the council, while Sinn Fein’s Harry Todd received €10,851.
Fine Gael’s Linus English, who was co-opted to the council and served for just 3 years, received €9,954.
Councillors do not receive the payment until they reach the age of 50. Among those who must wait for their payments until they reach that age are: Oliver Morgan (€8,301), Sean Bellew (€8,301), Alan Grehan (€17,088) and Martin Murnaghan (€9,954).
A number of former Ardee councillors received payment including; Mary Kavanagh (€2,264), Michael Farrelly (€2,264), Leonard Hatrick (€6,580), Padraig McKenny (€9,073) and Fintan Malone (€9,073),
The gratuity payments to councillors are subject to tax.
Councillors do not have to contribute a percentage of earnings towards the gratuity payment.
Current county councillors are paid an annual salary or ‘representational payment’ of €16,666, which is subject to tax.
Councillors also receive expenses, phone allowance to a maximum of €600, conference expenses and top-up payments for the chairperson and vice-chair.