Seanad debates

Thursday, 16 April 2015

10:30 am

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I wish to raise a most important matter concerning the front-line troops of our democracy, a matter I have no doubt is close to the Cathaoirleach's heart. County and city councillors toil tirelessly on behalf of the citizens, give of their time freely and generously and are the first to be approached by individuals and communities with various grievances and problems involving a multitude of local and national issues. They are the people who argue, debate, mediate and negotiate with county managers and other officials throughout the land. They are the people who are approached when the media needs to check facts on a local matter and who are always helpful. They do not have a trade union but they have trade associations such as the Association of Irish Local Government and the Local Authorities Members Association. I am not saying they are afraid to speak up but they should speak up more on their behalf. We all know there are far fewer councillors since the reorganisation of local government and the previous local elections and these councillors have much larger electoral areas. These people are pretty much full-time councillors who work seven days a week, all hours of the day and night and are at everybody's beck and call for very little recompense. I suggest that this is treating them poorly, if not shabbily, and it cries out to be addressed, especially since there are visible signs of an improvement in the economy.

At a minimum, they deserve a liveable wage. I discussed this matter with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government last year and possibly more than once in the past. I suggest the matter be discussed with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform who will shortly open talks with the public service unions. We must not forget these front-line troops.


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