A total of €12,228.26 was paid in expenses by Mayo County Council to elected members to attend just two events last year. When it came to expenses for conferences, training and meetings in Ireland, a total of €72,438.85 was paid out to the members for 2016 who, according to the figures released, attended 201 conferences and training events between them, working out at an average of €360 per claim.
Two of those conferences and training events saw 14 councillors paid expenses totaling €12,228.86 between them, with 12 councillors attending both events and two others one of the events. The first of those conferences was the Association of Irish Local Government Annual Conference, which was held in Buncrana in Donegal last May. It was attended by 14 elected members, Cllr Cyril Burke, Cllr John Caulfield, Cllr Tom Connolly, Cllr Gerry Coyle, Cllr John Cribbin, Cllr Neil Cruise, Cllr Richard Finn, Cllr Blackie Gavin, Cllr Christy Hyland, Cllr Patsy O'Brien, Cllr John O'Hara, Cllr Annie May Reape, Cllr Damien Ryan and Cllr Seamus Weir which saw Mayo County Council pay out €6,199.11 in expenses for the 14 councillors attending this two day conference. The other conference was another Association of Irish Local Government event, this time their autumn seminar which was held in Gorey in Wexford and was attended by 12 of councillors, with Cllr Gerry Coyle and Cllr Blackie Gavin not attending this one, and for which the council paid out €6,029.15 in expenses to the 12 councillors who attended this two day seminar in October.
Events run by the Association of Irish Local Government feature very prominently on the list of expenses for training and conferences published by the council, with a total of €29,360.80 paid in expenses for events run by the organisation, with a training programme run by the association broken up into five different modules, and attended by councillors in locations such as Monaghan, Letterkenny, Virginia, Salthill, Dundalk and Sligo, with expenses totalling €15,762.21 being paid to councillors who attended those training events. In total there were 86 expenses claims from councillors for training events or conferences provided by the Association of Irish Local Government last year.
The five highest claiming councillors for expenses for conferences and training claimed a total €27,762.84 between them, were Cllr Neil Cruise (FG ) €5,870.70, Cllr Richard Finn (Ind ) €5,818.42, Cllr John Cribbin (FG ), €5,469.89, Cllr Tom Connolly (FG ) €5,333.41 and Cllr Christy Hyland (Ind ) €5,270.42
Of the 32 who served as elected members of the council only nine did not make any claim for expenses for conferences and training in Ireland over the course of the 12 months. Those nine were Dep Lisa Chambers (FF ), Senator Rose Conway Walsh (SF ), Cllr Frank Durcan (Ind ), Cllr Gery Ginty (Ind ), Cllr Al McDonnell (FF ), Cllr Paul McNamara (FF ), Cllr Jarlath Munnelly (FG ), Cllr Gerry Murray (SF ) and Cllr Thérése Ruane (SF ).
Last weekend the council published the payments made to elected members of the council for 2016 which totalled €891,877.72 for the year. Those payments included payments received by the 32 councillors who served on the body last year at any stage and a gratuity payment to former councillor and TD Beverly Flynn, who received a payment of €10,245.37 for her service as a councillor in the past. A total of €186,640.69 was paid in annual allowances to the members, with another €36,000 shared between the six chairs of the councils Strategic Policy Committees, and €4,000 between the two elected members who sit on the council audit committee