Longford county councillors claimed over half a million euro in salaries and expenses last year, new figures have shown.
The total bill came to just over €590,000, meaning each of the county’s 21 elected representatives received an average payment of more than €28,000.
Not surprisingly, the two highest earners last year were Mayors Cllr Peggy Nolan, who occupied the chair of Longford County Council during the 2009-10 period and incumbent chairperson, Cllr Paul Connell.
Both councillors received a mayoral allowance of €18,000 on top of their customary annual salary or representational payment totalling around €16,700.
Cllr Nolan was also one of eight local representatives to claim phone allowance expenses last year, making her the highest claimant with a total of €43,622.
Just €600 behind was Cllr Connell who accumulated €42,978 in salary and expenses last year, with Cllr Gerry Brady the third highest earner on €40,084.
The Drumlish politician received a €4,500 payment for his role as deputy mayor and another €6,000 as one of the council’s strategic policy committee chairpersons.
Completing Longford’s top five were Fine Gael Councillors Alan Mitchell (€37,068) and Victor Kiernan (€31,227).
Among those claiming the lowest amonts were Newtowncashel Cllr Sean Farrell (€21,612), Cllr Mae Sexton (€21,283) and Cllr Padraig Loughrey (€21,103).
Former St Mel’s principal, Cllr Denis Glennon proved the most economical councillor according to the 2010 figures, taking home just €19,430.
The figures, which were released to the Longford Leader last Friday, were expected to form part of a county-by-county breakdown of local authority spending as part of an Irish Examiner investigation into councillors’ earnings.
Only two councils, Longford and Cork City, failed to feature in the list, fuelling speculation local authority officials had declined to release the figures.
This, however, prompted a swift response from Director of Services Frank Sheridan. Reacting to the controversy on Friday, Mr Sheridan insisted the council never received an official request from the newspaper through its designated media enquiries section. The Council made the figures available to the Longford Leader upon request. For more see page 3.