Big spenders and ‘Frugal Four’ noticeable in county councillor’s expenses

The earnings, allowances, and expenses of the 30 councillors in Galway County Council rose by €118,429 between 2006 and 2007, with three councillors earning more than €50,000 for the 12 month period.

While the total payment for 2006 was €933,581 that went up to €1,052,010 last year. The average payment to councillors for 2007 rose to €35,067, an increase of €3,948 from €31,119 in 2006. By and large, payment to councillors ranged from c€20,000 to c€39,000, with most seeing an increase.

However there were some notable exceptions. Cllr Michael Mullins went from €43,624 in 2006 to €60,995 in 2007 - an increase of €1,7371. However he did serve as mayor of the county during this period and it is a post in which the earnings and expenses rise naturally.

The payment and expenses for Independent Cllr Sean Canney more than doubled in the same period going from €25,799 to €54,009 last year. Fine Gael Cllr Tiernan Walsh went from €46,986 in 2006 to €51,920 in 2007.

Loughrea Fianna Fáil Cllr Michael Regan increased from €39,131 in 2006 to €41,168 in 2007. His Ballinasloe party colleague Cllr James Joyce went from €32,821 to €41,751 in the same period.

Although Independent Cllr Pat Hynes’ expenses actually decreased from €52,882 in 2006 to €41,292 last year, he was still among the highest earning group of councillors in the €40,000+ bracket.

More controversial, however, will be the fact that the Galway County Council continued to pay Michael ‘the Stroke’ Fahy, despite the fact that he was in gaol and could not attend meetings. Cllr Fahy received his full representative pay of more than €16,600 despite serving seven months behind bars.

His payments run from €21,083 in 2006 to €20,298 in 2007, a decrease of €785. However, while the monthly payments were perfectly legitimate, many will be angered by the fact that there was no rule or decision to revoke or suspend the payments during the councillor’s gaol term.

Among the Fianna Fáil councillors for the 2006 to 2007 period, Cllr Josie Conneely’s wages/expenses went from €37,101 to €39,616; Cllr Connie Ní Fhlatharta from €28,105 to €35,841; Cllr Seamus Walsh from €26,672 to €35,187; Cllr Michael Connolly from €31,237 to €37,283; and Cllr Tom Reilly from €29,303 to €35,708.

In Fine Gael, the expenses for 2006 to 2007 were as follows: Cllr Joe Tierney went from €22,816 to €27,515; Cllr Sean Kyne from €23,079 to €29,059; Cllr Peter Feeney from €29,047 to €31,169; Cllr Bridie Willers from €23,946 to €24,767; Cllr Jarlath McDonagh from €26,268 to €37,869; Cllr Sinead Connaughton from €26,534 to €32,041; and Cllr Tom McHugh from €24,907 to €32,329.

Other expenses in the same period were from PD Cllr Tom Welby (€24,448 in 2006 to €25,964 in 2007 ), Labour Cllr Colm Keaveney (from €36,476 to €39,643 ), Sinn Féin Cllr Dermot Connolly (from €30,812 to €33,807 ), and Independent Willie Burke (from €28,496 to €33,118 ).

However the wages/expenses for four councillors actually decreased from 2006 to 2007. The ‘Frugal Four’ were: Fianna Fáil Cllr Tomas Mannion who went from €30,639 to €29,743; Independent Seosamh Ó Cuaig who went from €39,388 to €37,072; Jim Cuddy who went from €31,648 to €30,743; and Fianna Fáil Cllr Mary Hoade who went from €27,833 to €27,587.

PD leader Sen Ciaran Cannon had expenses of €34,408 in 2006 and €24,634 in 2007. However he is now a Senator and is no longer sitting in Galway County Council. His replacement, Cllr Michael Mogie Maher, has amassed just €762 in wages/expenses since taking over.

Fine Gael’s Fidelma Healy Eames became a senator in 2007 and vacated her council seat. Her allowances, etc, were recorded as €30,399 in 2006 and €18,407 in 2007. Her replacement, Cllr Michael Carey, has amassed €1,978 in wages/expenses since taking over.

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