Membership of local authorities

Information

The members of each local authority are all called 'councillors'. (For example, county councillor, city councillor as appropriate). The number of members of each local authority is fixed by law. This means that Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act, 2001, as amended by Section 15 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, has set down the number of members of every county council, city council and city and county council throughout the country.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government may divide each city or county area into smaller local electoral areas and may fix the number of councillors that can be elected for each of these electoral areas.

Before making changes to an electoral area, the Minister requests a boundary committee to prepare a report of recommendations. View the most recent boundary committee reports.

Councillors are directly elected in local elections by members of the local community. The number of councillors elected to each local authority depends on the population of the local authority area.

Term of office

Elected councillors come into office seven days after polling day. Each councillor holds office for five years, councillors elected in May 2019 will hold office until 7 days after the polling day in 2024. Local elections by law are held in the month of May or June on a day fixed by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Each councillor attends meetings of the full council and the local authority committees of which they are members.

A councillor may resign by delivering a notice in writing. They are also deemed to have resigned if they do not attend a council meeting for 6 consecutive months. Exceptions may be made where a councillor is ill or where absence occurs in good faith due to other reasons. In exceptional circumstances such as these the local authority may by resolution grant an extension for a further six months. A limit of two such extensions may be granted to a councillor, subject to a maximum period of eighteen months continuous absence.

If a councillor dies, resigns or becomes disqualified from being a member of the council, the vacancy is filled by co-option. The political party who originally nominated the member who caused the vacancy nominates a new member and the council then passes a resolution to appoint the new member.

Rules

Councillors may not be members of more than one local authority.

Ethics and codes of conduct

The Local Government Act 2001 sets out an ethical framework for Councillors. This framework imposes a statutory duty on every local authority member (and employee) to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest.

The 2001 Act sets out a code of conduct which includes specific rules about the declaration and disclosure of interests by councillors. All councillors must complete and provide to the ethics registrar an annual declaration form, listing declarable interests which are maintained in a public register. Declarable interests are mainly of a financial, property or business nature and are set out in Section 175 of the 2001 Act and associated regulations.

Rates

Councillors get the following payments:

  • A ‘representational payment’ - a salary type payment
  • A fixed annual allowance
  • An un-vouched allowance – to cover costs related to the day-today duties of the councillor such as travel to meetings and subsistence expenses
  • A vouched allowance - to cover costs such as websites, newsletters, office support, childcare needs while attending meetings and more
  • A retirement gratuity (a lump sum)

The cathaoirleach of the council and the chairperson of one of the local authority committees (the special policy committee) also get an additional allowance.

For information on the payments Councillors get see the Revenue document Allowances, Expenses and Gratuities payable to Local Authority Chairpersons and Members (pdf).

How to apply

In order to become a member of a local authority, you must be elected by the people in your local area. Before you are elected, you must be nominated for election. You can find out more in our document on nomination of candidates for local elections.

Further information regarding membership of, and contact information for members of your local authority is available directly from your local authority.

Page edited: 23 April 2019