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Mon, May
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Retirement gratuities bring payments to councillors over €1 million

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HIGHEST PAYMENT Retired Fine Gael councillor, Henry Kenny.

Edwin McGreal

Almost a quarter of a million in gratuities to councillors who either retired or lost their seats last May has taken payments to Mayo county councillors to over €1 million for 2019.
A total of €1,106,883.29 was paid out to 37 councillors in 2019, according to figures released by Mayo County Council yesterday (Monday).
Six departing councillors received gratuities, totaling €231,854.55.
Four of them – Henry Kenny, Frank Durcan, Michael Holmes and Gerry Ginty – received them after retiring from the council before last May’s local elections. Two more – Tereasa McGuire and Teresa Whelan – lost their seats in the local elections.
Former Fine Gael councillor Henry Kenny received the highest gratuity, €68,810.04. He was a member of Mayo County Council from 1995 to 2019. He was co-opted in place of his brother, Enda, when Enda Kenny was appointed as a minister in late 1994 in the rainbow government.
Henry Kenny was then successfully elected in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 before retiring ahead of the 2019 elections.
Michael Holmes was an independent councillor from 2004 to 2019, having famously failed to get elected in 1999 when he was eliminated by a fraction of a vote. He received a gratuity of €51,011.74.
Gerry Ginty served as an independent councillor from 2009 until he became a member of Aontú in 2018. He also retired, receiving a gratuity of €38,865.50.
Frank Durcan was a councillor since the late 1960s before first retiring in 2004. However, he returned in 2009 and was elected then and in 2014, as an independent candidate. He received €34,007.82.
Fine Gael’s Tereasa McGuire served from 2014 to 2019 and received €29,372.15 while Teresa Whelan, who was co-opted in the stead of Rose Conway-Walsh when she was elected to the Seanad in 2016, received €9,787.30.
The single biggest outgoing was the representational payment (salary) which amounted to a total of €510,297.29. Councillors’ annual allowances came to €186,488.66. Those who chaired the six Strategic Policy Committees each received €3,483.87, a total of €20,903.22.
Allowances for being cathaoirleach or leas cathoirleach came to €59,301.38. Allowances for members of the audit committee came to €2,000 while municipal district allowances came to €29,971.23.
Thirteen of the 30 councillors claimed a mobile phone allowance, a total of €3,651.72.
There was only one claim for expenses abroad, that was by Cllr Gerry Coyle who travelled to Austria with the Mulranny Tidy Towns group for the Entente Florale Awards. The expenses amounted to €977.14.
Expenses for conferences and training in Ireland amounted to €61,438.10. The five highest payments were to Cllr Neil Cruise (€7,364.94), Cllr John O’Hara (€5,447.09), Cllr Martin McLoughlin (€4,468.86), Cllr Damien Ryan (€4,448.78) and Cllr Tom Connolly (€4,362.16).
Among some of the conferences attended by councillors including a two-day conference called ‘Understanding the asylum process in Ireland’ in Clonakilty, Co Cork, attended by four councillors, who each received over €600 in expenses for attending.
Two Mayo councillors also attended a two day conference in Clonakility entitled ‘Retirement entitlements and taxation benefits for councillors’. Only one of those councillors actually retired ahead of the elections. Both councillors received a total of €700 in expenses.