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More councillors will leave in the future, says Hayes

November 16th, 2021 10:10 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Cllr Hayes says social media means councillors are now ‘essentially on call all day, every day’.

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THE resignation of more councillors has been predicted by Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind).

After wishing Cllr Katie Murphy (FG) well following her decision to step down from Cork County Council, Paul Hayes said he believes more will follow.

‘I can say with absolute certainty that a number of other councillors – of all political persuasions – will be resigning in the near future,’ he said at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District.

‘The fact is it is becoming increasingly difficult to juggle work, or college life, with being a councillor,’ he said.

‘Back in 2014, when I was first elected, the vast majority of our Council meetings would take place on a Monday and Friday, which would allow people like me to work part-time at least.

‘While the full Council meetings are still held on Mondays, many of our committee meetings are scheduled for every other day of the week, making it increasingly difficult to be able to work a consistent number of days outside of one’s Council duties,’ he said. Cllr Hayes said he has discussed the recent resignations with other Council members and they also expressed their frustrations.

‘The public may say that we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we ran for election, and that’s a fair point, but I believe many people don’t see any difference between Oireachtas members, such as TDs, or senators, and their local councillors, even though Oireachtas members are paid multiple times that of local authority representatives, and have a team of support staff and other resources to assist them in their duties.’

Cllr Hayes said the basic salary for a councillor was increased from about €17,000 to €25,000 in recent months after a government review of councillors’ pay and conditions.

‘While I understand the hardship of other sectors, I believe councillors are being paid a part-time wage for doing what is essentially a full-time job.

‘I certainly couldn’t afford to raise a family and pay a mortgage on the Council wage alone,’ he added, ‘but it is becoming increasingly difficult to work a consistent number of days, or hours, for my employer when we are expected to attend Council meetings on irregular dates.

‘Most evenings we attend community meetings or meetings with constituents, or spend time replying to emails and phone calls.

‘In this age of social media, we are essentially on call all day, every day, and I believe that unless things change within local government, it will be increasingly difficult to find people willing to put themselves forward for election.’

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