Category: Archive

Lifting veil on pols’ expenses

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Details of the expenses of Oireachtas members and the identity of the highest-claiming TD who got £44,706 on top of the £37,473 salary are expected to be made public next month.

The Leinster House authorities refused to divulge the details but a

Freedom of Information request from a Sunday newspaper now seems set to reveal who got what for what after the information commissioner ruled the information was in the public interest.

Commissioner Kevin Murphy ruled against the decision to release only the amounts claimed and not the identities of who claimed them.

TDs and senators can still appeal the decision to the High Court but such a move is thought unlikely and has been ruled out by the main parties.

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The release of politician’s expense claims comes as they gear up to seek a pay rise of up to 20 percent.

Records already released showed TDs and senators claimed more than £4 million in expenses in the 12 months to last April. The cash claimed was more than their annual salaries in the case of 23 TDs. The average claim was £24,360.

Leinster House press officer Verona Ni Bhroinn described it as "disingenuous" to include expenses with salaries.

"There is a very real cost involved in being an elected member of parliament. There is a cost associated with travelling to and from Dublin, finding accommodation and the other expenses which relate to running their constituency offices.

"It would be absolutely ludicrous to expect that our elected representatives would have to put their hands in their own pockets to pay for that."

She described it as a "great day for democracy" that there would now be a situation where details could be placed in the public arena and full explanations could be given of why politicians needed and got the expenses.

Environment Minister Noel Dempsey has floated a proposal to do away with multi-seat constituencies and reduced the number of TDs from 166 to between 110 and 120.

Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy, backed the idea for fewer TD’s with higher salaries. He suggested increasing salaries to about £50,000 a year.

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