Payments to elected councillors and former councillors in Mayo last year came to a total of €1,106,883.29, according to figures released by the local authority this week.
In total, 37 councillors and former councillors received payments last year, 30 councillors were elected at last year's local elections with four former members retiring from politics and three others losing the seats they had held during the previous term of the council.
Six of the seven councillors not returning to the council chamber after the elections received gratuity payments totalling €231,854.55 between them, with Sinn Féin's Joe McHale, who was co-opted onto the council to replace Thérèse Ruane in March 2018, not receiving a gratuity payment.
The four councillors who retired from politics — Henry Kenny (FG ), Frank Durcan (Ind ), Michael Holmes (Ind ) and Gerry Ginty (Aon ) — received a combined total of €192,695.10, with Kenny receiving the highest gratuity of €68,810.04, having been first co-opted onto the council in 1994 and being successfully re-elected in the four local elections after that. Michael Holmes received the next highest gratuity payment of €51,011.74, having served as a councillor from 2004 to 2019; then Ginty who was elected at an independent in 2009 and 2014 before joining Aontú in his final two years as a councillor, received a gratuity payment of €38,865.50 while Durcan, who returned to politics in 2009, received a gratuity payment of €34,007.82.
Two politicians who lost their seats last summer - Fine Gael's Tereasa McGuire and Sinn Féin's Tereasa Whelan - received gratuity payments of €29,372.15 and €9,787.30 respectively, with McGuire serving from 2014 to 2019 and Whelan being co-opted onto the council to replace Rose Conway-Walsh in 2016.
Councillors are entitled to a payment of €17,081.36 per year as representational payment - 23 councillors who were councillors for the full year received this payment and 13 others, who either were newly elected, retired on not re-elected, received half of this payment €8,580.79, while Joe McHale received €7,192.79 in a representational payment. The total for representational payments came to €510,297.29.
The two councillors who held the office of Cathaoirleach received payments totalling €33,419.18 between them, with Cllr Blackie Gavin getting €13,602.74 and Cllr Brendan Mulroy getting €19,816.44.
Holding the chairpersonship of a Strategic Policy Committee also sees councillors receiving extra payments, with John Cribben (FG ), Gerry Ginty (Ant ), Michael Kilcoyne (Ind ), Brendan Mulroy (FF ), John O'Hara (FG ) and Michael Smyth (FF ) all receiving €3,483.87 each for chairing a committee, a total of €20,903.22, while Councillors’ annual allowances came to a total of €186,488.66.
A further €61,438.10 was paid for expenses for conferences and training in Ireland for councillors, €977.14 for expenses while abroad, €2,000 to members of the audit committee of the council, €29,971.23 for municipal district allowances and €3,651.72 in mobile phone allowances.