10 February 2017

“The Government are continuing to treat Councillors unfairly and forcing them to work for way less than the minimum wage.

“This would not be acceptable or tolerated in relation to any other sector of the workforce, but the Government are banking on public apathy and cynicism around the body politic so as they can get away with ignoring this issue.

“If this scenario is allowed prevail into the next local elections it will have a detrimental impact on the number of good people willing to contest, and in particular young people interested in allowing their name to go on a ballot paper.

“Councillors are the tier of democracy and public representation closest to their community and in these times are on the beck and call of constituents 24/7 all year round.

“Councillors accept and understand this commitment but the current paltry annual rate of pay, of €16,400, is not fair play, sustainable or reasonable by any standards for what is becoming a full-time job. 

“Councillors are not expecting bench-marking to comparable jobs, but at the very least they should be able to expect transparent and open arbitration on the issue. The rates in other jurisdictions such as Northern Ireland, USA and the UK are considerably enhanced. The only fair minded way that this issue can be diffused and taken out of the current charged and fragile political atmosphere is the establishment of an Independent Pay Commission to consider and report back to Government within a reasonable time-frame.

“The modern expectation, availability, skill sets, legislative and statutory insights and knowledge taken as a given for local representatives is more onerous than ever before. Coupled with the drastic reduction of Councillor numbers, reducing by over one third under the Phil Hogan local government reform regime the workload of Councillors countrywide has vastly escalated. With boundary reviews taken into the equation Councillors are having to cover geographic areas on par with Dail constituencies in many instances.

“Failure by the Government to accede to this simple and responsible request will have far reaching consequences for local government, local democracy and the options and choices of candidates available to communities in the next local elections. Access to local government and basic representation on the ground for communities will then deteriorate and that eventually reduce beyond recognition.”

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