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Revealed: Newry, Mourne and Down councillors paid almost £800,000 in allowances

Cllr William Walker
Willie Walker (DUP), currently not living Northern Ireland due to pending criminal investigation, had claimed £19,406 to the end of the last tax year in April 2022

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s elected representatives claimed almost £800,000 in allowances in the last financial year.

The figures, released by the local authority, show that during the 2021/22 period, 42 councillors were paid a total of £777, 485 in personal, travel and subsistence allowances.

The highest earning councillor in the district was Cathy Mason (SF) who spent much of the year as chair of the local authority, claiming £34, 343. Mrs Mason was elected to Stormont in May.

Over the course of the financial year, the Slieve Croob representative received the same annual basic allowance as the other members who served the district for the full financial year of £15,757.

Cllr Mason also received £16,805 in chairperson allowance and claimed £1,775 in mileage and £7 in subsistence including accommodation.

The highest claim for travel and subsistence was Rowallane councillor, Terry Andrews (SDLP) at £4,745.

Controversially Rowallane councillor, Willie Walker (DUP), currently not living Northern Ireland, had claimed £19,406 to the end of the last tax year in April 2022, which included £3,649 for special responsibilities.

Mr Walker was arrested at the end of February on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming. He was later released on bail pending further inquiries.

Mournes councillor, Laura Devlin (SDLP), who was chair for a short time took home a total of £24,611.
The amount included, £3,361 in chairperson allowance, £525 in mileage and £1,590 as the only representative claiming dependants’ carers allowance.

The deputy chair for most of the financial year, Slieve Gullion councillor Oonagh Magennis (SF) claimed £22,688 , which included £5,245 for her vice role and £1,039 in mileage.

Mournes councillor Harold McKee (UUP changing to TUV in November 2021) who served part of his time as deputy chair of the council claimed a total of £21,453, which included £1,049 for his vice role and £720 on mileage.

Ulster Unionist Party group leader, Slieve Gullion councillor David Taylor received a total of £19,943, including £161 in mileage.

Three party leaders claimed no mileage or subsistence costs at all with only extra responsibility costs including; Slieve Gullion councillor Pete Byrne (SDLP)£18,873, Slieve Croob councillor Andrew McMurray (Alliance) £16,404 and Mournes councillor Willie Clarke (SF) £15,886.

Aside from the council’s chair and vice chair, Rowallane councillor, Robert Burgess claimed the most at a total of £23,495 including £3,713 on travel and subsistence.

Only five councillors claimed just the basic rate fo £15,757 including; Crotlieve councillors, Mickey Ruane (SF) and Mark Gibbons (Ind), Slieve Croob councillor Hugh Gallagher (SDLP), Mournes councillor Henry Reilly (Ind- now DUP) and Newry councillor Gavin Malone (Ind).

Read more: Former Lord Mayor tops the list for council allowances

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