Limerick TDs go the distance to claim higher than average expenses

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

LIMERICK’S eight TDs between them racked up a combined €333,000 in expenses from the Houses of the Oireachtas in the last 10 months of 2010, new figures show.

LIMERICK’S eight TDs between them racked up a combined €333,000 in expenses from the Houses of the Oireachtas in the last 10 months of 2010, new figures show.

Published on the Oireachtas website, the figures show the average payout to city and county TDs exceeded €41,600. This is more than the average €40,000 claimed by TDs over the period concerned and reflects the greater distances they travel to the Dail.

As the TD most remote from Leinster House, former Fianna Fail TD John Cregan was the top claimant in 2010 - drawing down over €50,400 in travel and accommodation claims combined with office and phone bills.

Ex-TD Peter Power claimed the least - at €16,666 - although as a serving Minister of State during the period, he was entitled to claim other expenses as part of that job.

The period covers the 10 months from March 2010, following the resignation of Willie O’Dea as Minister for Defence the previous month. Deputy O’Dea claimed €44,179 over the 10 months - over €28,100 in travel and accommodation costs and over €16,000 under the public representation allowance, which covers office and communications expenses.

The Fianna Fail TD also made a repayment of over €5,300 to the Houses of the Oireachtas as he attended the Dail on fewer than 100 days last year. Deputy O’Dea took a break from parliament after the controversy surrounding his resignation.

Labour’s Deputy Jan O’Sullivan was the top claimant in the city over the period, claiming over €49,500 in total. She was followed by Willie O’Dea, Michael Noonan (€40,911), Kieran O’Donnell (€40,601) and Peter Power.

Some of this differential may be accounted for by Deputy O’Sullivan’s and Deputy O’Dea’s expenses being vouched and both Deputy Noonan’s and Deputy O’Donnell’s being unvouched.

Under new rules introduced in the wake of the expenses controversy surrounding former senator Ivor Callelly and others, TDs can claim a total of €15,000 a year if their expenses are unvouched and up to €25,700 per annum if they file receipts. All sitting TDs claimed the maximum to which they were entitled within the rules over the 10 months concerned.

Averaged out over a year, the total expense bill for TDs and senators came in at more than €10.5 million. Compared to 2009, this represented a reduction in the total bill of 13 per cent for TDs and 30 per cent for senators.