Newly elected TD to use €29k council gratuity to set up a solidarity fund

A former councillor who was elected to the Dáil plans to use his €29,000 local authority gratuity payment to establish a solidarity fund for community causes.

Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry, confirmed yesterday he will not use the payment, due to him following his 12 years of service on Cork City Council, for his own personal gain.

He said it would be used instead it for community causes, campaigns, and strike funds.

Mr Barry won a Dáil seat in February on his fourth general election campaign. His success brought to an end to his long stint on Cork City Council.

As a former councillor over the age of 50, and with 12 years service, he was entitled to a gratuity payment from the city council which has been calculated at €28,895.88 after tax.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Barry said he did not believe councillors who go on to become TDs should benefit from gratuities. “I will not take a penny of this money for myself. Instead, I will use this money to establish a fund to assist community causes, campaigns and strike funds,” he said.

He has not received the gratuity payment yet and said he will finalise plans over the coming weeks for how the “solidarity fund” will work and be administered.

Meanwhile, Mr Barry welcomed the co-option of his replacement, Fiona Ryan, to the city council. The co-option had been delayed this month following a challenge by the Labour Party.

Labour had questioned the validity of the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit nomination of Mr Barry’s replacement, given that he was nominated to run for the council in 2014 by the AAA which deregistered as a political party last year, after merging with PBP.

Two weeks ago, the city’s law agent advised councillors there was no legal basis for the co-option. She said the lacuna or deficiency in Section 19 of the Local Government Act which had been exposed by the de-registered party issue in this co-option case, needed to be addressed through primary legislation.

However, councillors felt delaying the co-opting pending the introduction of new legislation would deprive the people of the Cork North Central ward their full political representation.

Councillors requested legal advice and after considering new senior counsel advice behind closed doors on Monday night, which said the co-option of Ms Ryan was the “option of least risk”, they voted to co-opt her to fill the seat left vacant by Mr Barry’s election to the Dáil.


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