Fianna Fáil Senator Aidan Davitt.

Westmeath Senator welcomes confirmation of security expenses for councillors

Fianna Fáil Senator Aidan Davitt has welcomed confirmation that councillors across Ireland can use expenses to cover home security systems, such as alarms, CCTV and panic buttons. This comes after a number of public representatives have had their homes targeted in recent weeks.

Senator Davitt raised the issue in the Seanad with Minister of State at the Department of Housing Kieran O’Donnell, who confirmed that the Department will issue clarifying guidance on the issue of home security systems for councillors to allow them to claim expenses for such.

Under the Local Representation Allowance which can be claimed by a member for a full calendar year of €4,200 there are a number of categories for which councillors can claim expenses. Minister O’Donnell confirmed to Senator Davitt that installation costs of CCTV security systems may be covered in full under the improvements to office accommodation category.

Monthly and annual costs associated with home alarm monitoring may also be apportioned and claimed under utilities at up to a maximum of 20% of the total cost. The installation is under category 3 and the annual running costs are in category 4. Monthly annual costs associated with home alarm monitoring may also be apportioned and claimed with category 4, utility, up to a maximum of 20%.

The Fianna Fáil Senator for Longford-Westmeath said: “I’m very pleased to see that councillors can now claim for home alarm monitoring and CCTV under the Local Representation Allowance. I have been dealing with the Minister on this for a number of weeks and this is a very welcome move by the Minister. I thank him for his work on this.

"However, to have only 20% allowable is not 20% security. Mainly, security is tied to the person's position as an elected representative. I would implore the Minister of State to allow the 100% grant of the monthly expenses. If they want to claim it for security and they think it is the most important thing for that particular councillor to do, they are well entitled to it. I cannot see why it would be just 20%.

"I thank the Minister for his work on this but I implore him to examine allowing a 100% grant of the monthly expenses.”