'Clock-in' cap lets senators and TDs miss 30 days' work
Published 12/08/2010 | 05:00
TDs and senators will be able to avoid turning up for 30 days of parliamentary work due to a decision to impose a cap on the 'clocking-in' system.
The change has been made by the Oireachtas Commission, which is overseeing the implementation of the new system introduced in March.
Every TD and senator will only have to prove they are present in the Dail and Seanad respectively for the required 120 days a year to claim their full travel and accommodation allowances -- worth up to €37,000 annually depending on how far they live from Leinster House. If they do not turn up for the estimated 30 days of other parliamentary work this will not be recorded.
The move has been seen as a way of reducing the pressure on TDs and senators to attend Leinster House as much as possible -- because there will be no way of telling who has exceeded the 120-day threshold and those who are just doing the bare minimum.
Green Party Dublin Mid-West TD Paul Gogarty said he believed that the system should record attendances for all of the 150 days designated for parliamentary work.
"Otherwise you're going to have people who are going to come in less once they reach their total," he said.
Under the new system, TDs and senators have to be present for 120 of the 150 days when the Dail or Seanad is either sitting or doing committee work to claim their full expenses.
Mr Gogarty acknowledged that it was more difficult for rural TDs to travel to Leinster House. But he said he still believed it should not be a problem to have the clock-in system operating up to 150 days.
The move has been agreed by the Oireachtas Commission, which is headed by Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk and includes members from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.
A spokesman for the Oireachtas Commission said TDs and senators could not be solely based in Leinster House to perform their duties because they also had to carry out work in their constituencies and attend other forums in different parts of the country
If TDs and senators attend Leinster House for less than 120 days per year, they will have to refund 1pc of their travel and accommodation allowances for each day they miss below the threshold. That means that those who only attended 110 days would be docked 10pc for the 10 days missed.
The Oireachtas Commission also agreed that TDs and senators on official visits abroad can count this towards their attendance. This rectifies a grievance among politicians carrying out parliamentary business abroad who felt they were being unfairly punished.
TDs and senators are only required to register once a day, meaning they have to clock in but not clock out.