KEVIN DWYER, THE Fianna Fáil councillor who moved to Sydney a year ago, has said that he will resign this month.
The councillor – from New Ross, Co Wexford – had been allowed to retain his seat and his €4,000 annual stipend, despite living thousands of miles away from his constituents.
The Irish Echo newspaper is reporting, however, that he now intends to resign.
While council rules do allow councillors to miss up to six months of meetings, Dwyer had extended this by a further six months in March of this year.
He has stated, however, that he has no plans to ask for a further extension, the latest of which is due to lapse of 21 September.
Speaking to the newspaper, he said:
I could ask for another extension but it would be unfair of me to apply for another extension at this time. It would be unfair on my fellow councillors to put them in a position where they would have to support me, but also on the people who supported me in the elections. I don’t feel I could continue to represent the people from the far side of the world.
He then went on to thank those who had allowed him to receive his second six month extension:
I’m grateful for my fellow councillors for giving me that extension period, because if my partner hadn’t settled down – if she said after a month that she wanted to go home – I wanted to have the opportunity to continue serving on the council.
In response to the €4,000 that he was receiving as a councillor, he said that this had been deducted from social welfare payments during his time looking for work in Ireland.
He also said that annual expenses of €1,500 had been made available to him, along with an allowance for a mobile phone.
Once in Australia, however, the payments had been deducted from social welfare payments to his partner.
Having successfully applied for his second extension, payments to him of €350 per month have been halved.