Longford County Councillors took home almost €600,000 last year in expenses and salary entitlements, the Leader has learned.
New figures released by the local authority show a total of €591,359 was paid out to 21 of the county’s locally elected representatives in 2011, marginally ahead of the €590,491 accounted for just 12 months earlier.
The six figure sum means councillors secured just over €28,000 each last year before tax for carrying out their duties as elective representatives across all four electoral areas.
Independent councillor Paul Connell topped the list on €44,963 with 25 per cent (€18,000) coming by way of a mayor’s allowance which he shared with his successor, Cllr Frank Kilbride.
The Edgeworthstown hotelier’s term as chairperson, €16,724 in salary payments and a further €8,911 accrued through travel and other expenses, resulted in a final figure of €43,635.
Former county councillor and recently appointed district court judge, Alan Mitchell recorded the third highest total with €35,536.
Completing the top five highest earning councillors were Fine Gael’s Gerry Brady (€31,874) and Drumlish representative, Martin Mulleady (€29,883).
At the other end of the scale, retired St Mel’s College principal, Cllr Denis Glennon proved to be the county’s most frugal local politician.
In 2011 and for the second year in succession, he claimed €19,430, the majority of which came via a €16,704 statutory representational payment.
The Longford town based councillor was also one of only two local politicians not to submit any travel and subsistence claims last year with Newtowncashel’s Sean Farrell being the other.
In total, councillors were paid €70,910 for travel costs and a further €95,917 to attend meetings, bringing the all-round expenses total for last year to €166,827.
The figures, obtained by the Leader this week, are likely to raise further question marks over the lucrative earnings of part-time politicians and comes just weeks after the Government revealed plans to cut Longford County Council’s local government grant by €1.3m next year.