Paper publishes details of councillors’ expenses and payments

An Irish Independent report today says the average payment to councillors in Donegal in 2008 and 2009 was just over €33,500, with councillors being paid out just over €1.02 million in 2008 and €1.04 million in 2009.

The money comes mainly from the council, but also from the HSE, VECs and other bodies on which councillors sit.

The highest amount paid to any member in 2008 was just under €57,000 paid to Cllr Gerry Crawford, who served as mayor in the latter half of that year. His predecessor as mayor, Cllr John Boyle, incurred expenses costs in 2008 of just under €54,000.

The highest payment in 2009 was almost €61,000 paid to Cllr Brendan Byrne, who again served as mayor in the latter part of the year. Clr Gerry Crawford, who served as mayor for the first six months of last year, received just over €53,000.

The paper says councillors in Donegal ran up bills of €42,888 on foreign trips in 2008 and 2009, but claims Donegal County Council did not supply a breakdown of all the travel and costs involved.

Last year, the then Mayor Cllr Gerry Crawford flew to the United States with former councillor Francis Conaghan at a total cost of €12,388.43.

The previous year, former Mayor John Boyle and Cllr Terence Slowey went to the US for St Patrick's Day -- and their accommodation bill alone came to €5,100. This was more than twice the cost of their transatlantic flights.

Donegal County Council is the only local authority for which seperate foreign travel figures are given, with a spokesperson saying this is due to an open and transparent register of members' expenses. Costs relating to the participation of officials and other staff are not included.

The spokesperson added that the register is a public document, and is open to inspection by members of the public.