Over £300,000 paid to departing councillors in Mid Ulster

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Over £310,000 of taxpayers’ money was paid to councillors quitting the three legacy councils that went on to make up Mid Ulster in April last year.

The figure, which has been revealed by Department of the Environment (DOE), saw retiring ‘Mid Ulster’ councillors who had served more than 12 years take home ‘golden good-byes’ running into thousands.

A total of £2.32m was paid out to retiring elected representatives across Northern Ireland, but former Dungannon councillors who applied to the scheme took home the second highest total of all the former councils at £167,400. Ballymena’s legacy council was first, with a total payment of £174,200.

Those retiring from Cookstown were paid the sum-total of £95,800, whilst just £47,600 was paid to those who had served in Magherafelt.

Samuel Glasgow (UUP) who served for 42 years as a councillor in Cookstown, and Patrick Daly (SDLP) who served for the same period in Dungannon were given the highest hand-out, which was £35,000.

Lord Maurice Morrow, who had also served on the council at Dungannon & South Tyrone was also included in the DOE scheme, even though he was working as an MLA at the time.

It is understood the lowest payment made to retiring councillors who claimed the severance package was £7,800.

One of the reasons Northern Ireland’s former 26 councils was reduced to 11 was to save costs.

When details emerged of these severance packages many spoke out against them, but Derek McCallan, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association defended the pay-offs.

“The councillor severance scheme was designed to streamline and to recognise the contribution of long-serving councillors who did not stand for re-election,” he said.

“These councillors made a significant contribution to the needs of people in their areas and were accountable to people in local communities 365 days a year.

“When compared to public sector severance schemes made available in other sectors this is a proportionately small overall figure.”

The new Mid Ulster District Council took full control of local government in April last year.