Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Reply to the "Seanad Reform" Group

Earlier today I received an email from a Communications firm acting on behalf of, as below.
Dear Councillor

Attached is a consultation paper entitled ‘Radical Seanad Reform Through Legislative Change - Proposals for Measures to Transform Seanad Éireann Without The Need For Constitutional Amendment’ prepared by Senator Feargal Quinn, Michael McDowell, Joe O’Toole, Noel Whelan and Senator Katherine Zappone. 

They look forward to receiving your views on

Kind regards, etc
 The document is meant to be available online. My response is below.

Hi .....,
many thanks for your email. I read through much of the consultation paper earlier today. Much of it is interesting; some of it is downright offensive, e.g. the proposal to maintain votes for graduates, and the vestige of the quasi-fascist Quadragesimo Anno in support of vocational panels.
My views are straightforward. Seanad Éireann is an anachronistic, elitist institution which is beyond reform. If we, as a country, are genuine about actual democracy, and giving power to citizens and communities, we will move on from the Seanad sideshow and seek real reform of the Dáil, local authorities and other structures.
I, of course, accept that some individual Senators have been excellent advocates in the past; but the institution itself is the problem.
Is mise, le meas,
Dermot Looney
Cllr Dermot Looney
Labour Party | Pairtí an Lucht Oibre
Tallaght Central

Monday, 24 September 2012

Press Release - Looney Welcomes Imminent Publication of Cllr Expenses

Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party Councillor on South Dublin County Council (SDCC), has welcomed confirmation that all Councillor expenses are to be published online in the coming days. Cllr Looney has campaigned for the publication of the information since his election to SDCC in 2009.

Following a question on notice from Cllr Looney at June’s Council meeting, and a motion in his name passed at September’s meeting, Council officials have confirmed the imminent publication of all Councillor expenses and remuneration on the SDCC website. Councillors have been written to in the last week with a draft of the published list, and full publication is expected within the coming days. The details will be posted along with details of Councillors’ attendance at County Council meetings since 2009.

“I am delighted that this important information will be made accessible to the public,” noted Cllr Looney. “Several other County Councils already publish such data under Section 142(4)(g) of the 2001 Local Government Act. Some national newspapers also publish the raw data on an intermittent basis. However, the Council’s plan to publish fully-annotated expenses and remuneration online will give a fairer and more complete account of these expenses.”

“These statistics will show that, in general, Councillors receive a modest income and a level of expenses far below what is highlighted in some of the media. Myself and my Labour colleagues on SDCC refuse, for example, to claim any expenses for Conferences at home or abroad. In the interests of accountability and transparency, I am releasing a full list of my own remuneration and expenses, including all non-Council related expenses, since 2009. This list shows that I am, consistently, one of the lowest-claiming Cllrs on SDCC.”

“Some politicians milked the system for too long – and got away with it. Now it is important that we never let this happen again. Opening up the Council’s books and publishing this information will go some way in ensuring transparency and accountability at local level.”


Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2009-2011

2009 (June-Dec): Representational Payment €9,731.10;
Annual Allowance €3,587.47; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €300; VEC Expenses €283.64; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €4171.11

2010: Representational Payment €16,797.26;
Annual Allowance €6,306.65; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €829.35; VEC Expenses €810.40; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €7,946.40

2011: Representational Payment €16,723.92;
Expenses €6,486.87; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €985.72; VEC Expenses €769.88; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €8,242,47

The “Representational Payment” is, in essence, a Councillor’s ‘salary;’ it is fixed at one-quarter of a Senator’s salary and is dependent on attendance at meetings. As it is subject to PAYE, PRSI, USC and other deductions, I receive approximately €7,900 per annum nett.

“Annual Allowance” refers to travel, subsistence and other expenses incurred in carrying out the duties of a Cllr. “Phone and Broadband” refers to the payments made for mobile phone and broadband usage. “VEC expenses” are €40.52 for every meeting of the VEC or its Subcommittees that incurs more than 3 hours work. Expenses do not apply to Community School boards or meetings which take less than 3 hours.