Labour Senators Concerned at Lack of Progress on Issue of Councillors’ Pay
Labour Party Senators have branded the lack of progress made on tackling the issue of Councillor’s pay as “deeply frustrating”. Despite a commitment in the Programme for Government, proposals on the issue of reforming the pay of City and County Councillors as recommended by the Moorhead Report have not been advanced.
Responding to a question from Senator Marie Sherlock in the Seanad yesterday, Minister of State Peter Burke informed Senators that a proposal has been submitted to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform which, pending his consent, will be brought to Government. However, there is no concrete timeline available for the implementation of the report’s recommendations, and Labour Senators pointed to the frustration among Councillors at the enduring inertia that exists around local government reform.
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Sherlock said:
“This was a self-imposed deadline by the Government, so it is doubly frustrating to see the lack of progress that has been made on the issue to date. There has been inertia associated with the issue of Councillors’ pay and conditions for several years, and the unambiguous commitment of the Programme for Government must not be seen as another instance of false hope. The longer we disregard this issue the greater the difficulties in retaining some councillors and the longer we will go before seeing gender parity among our elected representatives.
“From speaking to our Labour Councillor network, to Councillors across the country and from my own experience on Dublin City Council, it is clear that the impact of low pay has a damaging impact our local democracy. There are far too many who experience major difficulties in balancing employment and their Council duties along with caring and other commitments. This speaks to a significant problem in our local government system, which reforms to the pay of Councillors would go some way to address. Improving Councillors pay is about showing respect and affording greater dignity to those who make policy for and advocate on behalf of their local communities.
“There are a number of divergent viewpoints on the recommendations of the Moorhead Report, but there is consensus that it is a start, and that reforms to Councillors’ pay would be a valuable first step. We welcome the announcement that a proposal has been brought to the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, but it is incumbent on the Government to progress this issue, and not let another deadline fall by the wayside”.