COUNTY councillors have claimed more than €60,000 attending conferences across the country so far this year.
And this figure is set to rise steeply as many members have yet to lodge their full claims for the year.
Figures obtained by the Limerick Leader show the 28 county representatives claimed €60,959 attending events across the country.
Five members - Cllrs Eddie Wade, David Naughton, Patrick C Fitzgerald, Eddie Ryan and Michael Sheahan - claimed the maximum €4,700 allowance to which councillors are entitled.
They are entitled to this to pay for subsistence, travel and the fee of the conference itself, with an overnight allowance of just over €108. They can claim between €39 and €59 for mileage depending on the type of vehicle they use.
Four members attended the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, claiming a total of €1,829 so far.
Cllr Jerome Scanlan joined Damien Riedy, Mary Jackman and Patrick C Fitzgerald at the high-profile event, addressed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
As Cllrs Jackman and Scanlan have yet to claim for this event, this figure is expected to be higher.
Meanwhile, Cllr Fitzgerald was also in attendance at a conference focusing on the work of Benedict Kiely, in Co Tyrone.
He joined Cllr Naughton at the event, with the pair claiming €1,264.80 altogether.
Cllr Fitzgerald pointed out the writer Mr Kiely had his ancestry in Co Limerick, saying: “I have a serious interest in the historical aspect of this.”
He also believes that many conferences are worthwhile to do go: “They go into great detail with regard to local government - the ones I would select, I would find to be very efficient.”
At the MacGill Summer School, the Independent councillor also addressed Environment Minister Phil Hogan on the impending merger of Limerick City Council with Limerick County Council.
County Hall records show a number of councillors travelled from events in Cork to the MacGill Summer School on consecutive days.
Cllr Riedy travelled from Skibereen to Donegal following a conference focused on Local Media and the Councillor, as did Cllr Jackman.
The records also show that Cllr Richard Butler travelled between Clogher, Co Tyrone and Rosscarbery following a three-day conference celebrating the work of novelist William Carleton.
Cllrs Mike Houlihan and Rose Brennan both travelled to an event in Rosscarbery, focused on how to use social media as an effective marketing tool.
They claimed a total of €913.43 between them.
Cllrs Naughton and Scanlan attended a conference in Westport entitled ‘How to Influence People’.
A total of €1,203 was claimed at this event from the two councillors.
Elsewhere, an information session focused on Getting to Grips with the nation’s debt in Galway’s Kingsvalley Hotel saw visits from Cllrs Brigid Teefy, Eddie Ryan, Noel Gleeson and Leonard Enright. In total, they claimed €1,602.02.
Cllr Wade attended the Parnell Summer School in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, claiming a total of €1,016.
Castletroy-based councillor Michael Sheahan attended two conferences in quick succession in March.
One event, Building Community Preparedness and Resilience was held in Killarney on March 9, while another event, a Guide to Septic Systems in Galway began on the same date and lasted until March 10.
Cllr Sheahan missed the first day of the second conference - supplied by Esperanza Enterprises, a venture backed by Fianna Fail’s Galway councillor Seamus Walsh.
According to the agenda, the first day featured only a gala dinner. Cllr Sheahan missed this, and only claimed subsistence for a second night, in total seeking €669.08 for both events.
The records show a number of councillors claimed for overnight stays at events in Tralee. These were: Cllrs Leo Walsh, Brigid Teefy, John Egan, Eddie Wade, Leonard Enright, Mike Donegan, Kevin Sheahan, David Naughton, and Eddie Ryan.
Several councillors did not attend any conferences this year. One, Labour’s David Moloney said he simply cannot find time to attend events due to his day job, and hurling commitments.