Monday, 31 March 2014

Give Dubs their say on a Directly-Elected Mayor

I was honoured at today's Special Meeting of South Dublin County Council to propose the resolution on holding a plebiscite on a Directly-Elected Mayor for Dublin. And I was happy that, after a worthwhile debate, 19 Councillors voted in favour and just 3 against. You can read my speech at .

I managed to catch the last few minutes of the meeting in Fingal on their webcast and caught up on the remainder on Twitter. It was regrettable that Councillors in Fingal in essence viewed themselves as gatekeepers to democracy and blocked the resolution to hold a plebiscite.

The plebiscite vote was passed by 50-0 in Dublin City Council. 23 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councillors voted unanimously tonight to put the vote to a plebiscite

In total, 92 Dublin Cllrs voted in favour, and just 19 voted against.

The quadruple lock of requiring all four Councils to pass this by an absolute majority was an invention of Minister Phil Hogan and his Government, who clearly have no appetite for giving Dubliners their say on this. It gave finality to a convoluted process in which Councillors were expected, without time nor budget nor staff resources, to formulate a structure, to consult publicly and to put forward detailed proposals on a directly-elected Mayor. The plans are not perfect but despite the protestations of some Councillors today they are quite detailed.

Dubliners are rightly angry that they have been denied a vote by this convoluted invention.

There is a straightforward way of proceeding which will give Dubliners the right to have their say and which will protect residents in Fingal and other authorities from a city centre focus.

The Minister could call the plebiscite, requiring that it pass by a majority of voters in each local authority area.

That would be democratic for Fingal, and democratic for Dublin.

There is nothing stopping him - legal or otherwise.

Will he and his Government have the guts to put it to the people? I doubt it.

This blogpost was edited to take into account the result of tonight's vote in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Looney publishes expenses and remuneration for 2013

Independent Cllr Dermot Looney, a candidate in the Templeogue-Terenure electoral area in the upcoming local elections, has welcomed the imminent publication of Councillor expenses for the County for 2013. In 2011, Looney won a long campaign to secure the publication of all Cllr expenses. The publication of the “S142 Register” giving these details is due on the Council website in the coming days.

“I am again happy that this important information is being made accessible to the public,” noted Looney. “Following my election in 2009, I campaigned to have this information made readily available online in the interests of transparency and accountability. As well as releasing a full list of my Council pay and expenses since 2009, I am also the only Councillor to publish my expenses as a member of the ETB (formerly the VEC) and four of its subcommittees.”

“My election as Mayor half-way through 2013 means that I have taken leave from my job as a teacher and taken a full-time wage from the Council. My first decision as Mayor was to cut my pay by €7,000 - €3,500 of the Mayoral Allowance for 2013 went into the Mayor’s Fund for community groups, and a further €3,500 has been cut for 2014.”

“In nearly five years on the Council I have refused to attend ‘conferences’ at home or abroad. Instead, over €20,000 foregone by me has gone to providing homeless accommodation, assisting Council tenants in need of window and door replacement, and funding mobility grants for the elderly and those who are disabled.”

“It is disappointing that almost €122,000 has been spent on these ‘conferences’ over the last five years, mainly by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Councillors. If I am re-elected in May, I will continue my pledge not to claim money for ‘conferences’ and to continue to oppose the junket culture.”

Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2013
2013: Representational Payment €16,657.72; Mayor Allowance €17,900.02 (includes deduction for Mayor’s Fund) – total salary €34,557.74
Expenses €6,486.87; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone, Broadband and Mayor Travel €4,727.14; VEC/ETB Expenses €1,053.82 (covered 2012-13); Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €12,267.83

Cllr Dermot Looney – Remuneration and Expenses 2009-2011
2009 (June-Dec): Representational Payment €9,731.10
Expenses €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;
Expenses €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

2012: Representational Payment €16,723.92;
Expenses €6,486.87; Home Conferences €0; International Travel €0; Phone & Broadband €650.62; VEC Expenses €567.28; Other Expenses €0. Total Expenses: €7,704.77


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 €8,000 per annum nett. The Mayoral Allowance in 2013 was paid in the six months from July-December. It is also subject to these deductions.

The main “expenses” figure – formerly the “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. A travel allowance is provided to the Mayor in lieu of a car. “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.

Full details of attendance and expenses for all SDCC Cllrs are available at