Councillors vote in favour of €12,000 ‘top up’ for council chairman

Councillors on the Dundalk Municipal District voted to introduce a top-up allowance of €12,000 for the Chairperson of the committee at its September monthly meeting.

Councillors on the Dundalk Municipal District voted to introduce a top-up allowance of €12,000 for the Chairperson of the committee at its September monthly meeting.

Cllr Declan Breathnach, Chairman of committee, will now receive a total of €28,000 in payments.

This includes the €12,000 top-up allowance and also the €16,000 representational payment that all councillors receive.

Councillors also receive expenses, phone allowance to a maximum of €600 and conference expenses.

The payment created much heated debate in the Chamber of the Town Hall, as councillors were divided on the issue.

Independent Councillor Maeve Yore and Sinn Fein’s Keven Meenan, Jennifer Green, Edel Corrigan and Jim Loughran all voted against the payment.

Councillors Mark Dearey, Conor Keelan, John McGahon, Peter Savage, Declan Breathnach, Marianne Butler and Marie Doyle all voted in favour to introduce the €12,000 top-up allowance.

Independent Cllr Yore told the meeting that she disagreed with the payment and that “people are on their knees.”

“This is not personal, but I do not agree with the top-up allowance for the Chairperson. There are enough payments.”

Cllr Meenan told the meeting that the money could be spent elsewhere on “any amount of other things” and the Chairperson is only chairing a “talking shop”.

He said: “There is only one chair of the Louth County Council and that is Cllr Oliver Tully. There should be no other allowance for any of Chairperson.

“Any event notices will be directed to the Chair of the County Council and not this Municipal District.”

Cllr Green said that the payment was an “insane amount of money” while Cllr Loughran told the meeting that councillors earn enough money and that “there is no need for it.”

Cllr Corrigan said that there the Chairperson of the Municipal District is not the first citizen of Dundalk.

“This allowance for expenses does not have to be vouched for. These expenses cannot be valued.

“There is only one Chair of this county.”

Fianna Fail Cllr Peter Savage said that he tabled a council motion to refuse payments to councillors when they were first introduced and claimed that Sinn Fein councillors at the time agreed to the introduction of payments to councillors.

“Sinn Fein at the time took whatever they could take,” Cllr Savage told the meeting.

Fine Gael Cllr John McGahon said that Sinn Fein were “looking for headlines” and “reading from a script”.

“Sinn Fein are are reading from a script drafted in Gerry Adam’s office,” said Cllr McGahon.

“If the role of the Chairperson turns out to be not effective, then we should reassess the payment to see if a financial reward is there or not.”

Cllr Butler said that the role of Chair requires huge amounts of time.

“If the role is anything similar to Chairperson of the former Dundalk Town Council, then a payment needs to be paid.

“If Cllr Tully attended all the events in Louth and Dundalk, he would be a very tired man.”

After the motion was passed, Cllr Declan Breathnach said that whoever was the Chair should “earn their keep”.

“It is up to the Chairperson to make the Chairmanship effective” he told the meeting, “Since I took over the role, I have attended many events.

“I take my role very seriously and the payment should be worked for,” he stated.