Labour Senator Denis Landy has hit back at a Fianna Fail councillor who alleged he was “well paid in the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland and got a big job in the Seanad arising from his involvement in that organisation”.
The Carrick-on-Suir based senator has disputed the veracity of Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan comments made at Carrick-on-Suir Town Council’s recent Budget meeting where the Council’s elected members voted to leave the AMAI, which is their representative body.
He condemned his former Carrick Town Council and South Tipperary Co. Council colleague’s comments about him at the meeting as “opportunistic and groundless”.
“I wish to point out that I was not paid as a member of the AMAI,” he said in a statement issued to The Nationalist this week.
“I received the normal travel and subsistence allowance as per the rate payable to all public representatives for attending meetings of the organisation with the exception of a once off honorarium I received when I was AMAI President for a year.”
Senator Landy pointed out that Cllr Cooney-Sheehan (FF) was a member of the AMAI from 2004 to 2009 representing Carrick on Suir Town Council and would have been entitled to the same rate of expenses as provided to Senator Landy and would be aware that there was no additional payment for councillors who were AMAI delegates.
The senator said he wished to clarify that he did not simply “get a big job in the Seanad arising from his involvement in the organisation.”
“As Cllr Cooney-Sheehan will know only too well, I won a very hard fought internal election and was given the honour of being the nominee for the AMAI in 2011, beating candidates from her party, Fine Gael and Independents to secure the nomination and the right to then go forward to contest the Seanad election proper.
“I was not handed a job in the Seanad, I won the seat against the odds having successfully secured one of the seven seats on the Administrative panel from a field of 19 candidates and I am thankful for the support I got from my colleagues in the AMAI,” he explained.
He also disputed Cllr Cooney-Sheehan’s criticism that he had not stood up for town councils and local government.
He pointed out that up to 50% of his contributions in Seanad Éireann last year were about local government reform and he had spoken at every opportunity to support the retention of Town Councils and the enhancement of the local government system.
The senator said his contribution in the Seanad on June 6 last year on the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Bill clearly showed his interest and passion for the retention of Town Local Government.
“The role of local government at town level should be enhanced and strengthened,” he told the Seanad on that date. “ I have made it quite clear I do not concur with the views of Senator Quinn and others who stated we have too many councillors.
“We have a great system of local democracy, albeit many powers have been stripped down. The role of local government should be enhanced and I do not subscribe to the view that if we had fewer councillors would have more efficiency.
“The cost of elected members in any local authority per annum is approximately 0.01% of the cost of running the local authority. Those who say fewer councillors would mean more efficiency are not speaking about economic efficiency. Most have their own agendas with regard to rezoning and as far as they are concerned the fewer councillors they have to deal with the better,” he added in his Seanad speech.
Senator Landy said Cllr Cooney-Sheehan’s allegations about him were “opportunistic and groundless” and he believed his response to them would allow the public to make up their own mind on the reasons why certain views were expressed at Carrick-on-Suir Town Council’s recent meeting.