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Green Party Communications | 22.06.2012 | Back to News | News Archive
Councillors conference circuit should be scrapped
The Green Party is calling for an end to the conference industry that has been built up as a result of education allowances paid to city and county councillors around the country. The Party has claimed that taxpayers' money is being wasted on councillors traversing the country, often sharing cars claiming travel and subsistence allowances for attending conferences that are of little relevance to their work.
"As part of
any reform of Local Government, Minister Hogan must address the underlying
causes of why councillors are, in some cases, being forced to hit the
conference circuit to supplement their income and, in other cases, taking
advantage of the generous allowances by driving to a conference, signing in and
driving home. While in office, John Gormley placed a cap on travel and
subsistence, but it needs further reform," said Green Party Environment
"Minister Hogan has engaged in a consultation process with Local Authority members and their associations. One key area he could address is the provision of mandatory, relevant training to elected members to replace the education and training allowance. In the past number of years, a raft of National and EU Legislation has come into effect, governing the work of the elected member. Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, the 2010 Planning Act, Housing Policy, Transportation Policy, National Climate Change Strategy, and the Water Framework Directive are but a few, yet many elected members are not aware of the wider implications of their decision-making because they are not fully informed of the legislative background of the work of Local Authorities," he continued.
Cllr. Noonan stated that the Green Party believed that Local Authority members have been demoralised in recent years by ever increasing demands of citizens, coupled with ever dwindling resources of Local Authorities, compounded this year by the non-compliance of payment of the household charge.
"We believe, in the principle of subsidiarity, that elected members of Local Authorities should be valued and given the resources to make informed decisions for the common good. Many councillors rightly or wrongly see the education allowance as a means of reimbursement for the long hours they put into their work, which is increasingly becoming a thankless task. We are already seeing a situation where many good community people are reluctant to put themselves forward for election because of negative perceptions of local politicians, poor work-life balance and unrealistic demands of the electorate.""What we have is the most centralised system of Governance in