Alderman gives a full account of expenses

THE Farmers Journal carried a report in its edition of July 26 last which it claimed to be an analysis of payments to councillors.

This was subsequently carried by several newspapers and discussed at length with one of the authors of the report on Morning Ireland. This was by no means an in-depth analysis; in fact it was so unbalanced that it gave out a totally wrong message.

Certainly there are councillors drawing huge amounts in expenses, but as an alderman of Cork City Council I am not paid.

As a member of several committees I receive a monthly cheque of €440.09 in expenses irrespective of how many committee meetings I attend. This is also supposed to cover my telephone bills.

I receive a further €1,000 per year as a member of the regional authority.

There are hundreds of councillors in a similar position throughout the country, but this was not referred to in the reports which gave the impression that all councillors were creaming off the system. I spend six hours in my clinic every Saturday and my phone hardly ever stops ringing day and night. I am available to my constituents seven days a week which is as it should be.

Strategic policy committees (SPCs), vocational education committees (VECs) and health boards, etc., are an important part of the structure of local government.

The chair of the SPCs, the chair of the regional authority, membership of the VECs, health boards and general council of county councils, etc, all carry salaries and/or lucrative expenses.

As an independent I would not be able to obtain any of those positions. What happens is Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the PDs gang up together like a flock of vultures and divvy up anything that's worth a few bob among themselves, very much as they gerrymander their mayoralty and chairmanships of councils.

It is a supreme irony to hear those same people from time to time bleating about democracy.

Ald Con O'Connell,

40, Hillview Estate,

Tramore Road,

Cork.

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