Monday 27 February 2017

FG to get lion's share of €14m in taxpayer funds

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

FINE Gael is set to get the lion's share of the annual pot of almost €14m in taxpayer funding for political parties.

The party will get a bigger parliamentary party leader's allowance because it will now have far more TDs than Fianna Fail -- and its increased share of the national vote will see it get a bigger percentage of other Exchequer funding for political parties.

It is expected to receive at least €5m in total, with Labour and Sinn Fein also set to gain.

But Fianna Fail's share of state funding is expected to drop substantially from €5.1m down to about €2.8m in the wake of its electoral wipeout.

The 13 Independent TDs elected so far will all be entitled to claim a €41,152 "party leaders' allowance" -- which is paid annually over the five-year Dail term -- on top of their €92,000 salary.

But there will not be an extra cost to the taxpayer -- it will be funded simply by taking money from parties like Fianna Fail that have fewer seats than before. The exact figures for party funding have not been determined yet because their seat tally is not certain -- and there has also been no decision on whether United Left Alliance (ULA) will qualify for party political funding.

The ULA, whose five members include Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett, failed to get registered as a political party before the election. If it can get on to the Register of Political Parties, it would then be able to qualify for state funding.

TDs who were running for re-election were getting just one-18th of their monthly salaries since the Dail was dissolved four weeks ago. But the Oireachtas Commission confirmed yesterday that they would now start getting their full salary again -- backdated to last Saturday when the vast majority of TDs were elected.

But TDs with more than 11 years' service --such as Fine Gael's Jimmy Deenihan and Labour's Joe Costello -- will be facing a pay cut of €6,000.



Salary

They were previously entitled to a higher salary due to increments that have now been abolished.

The commission said all TDs in the next Dail would be reverting to the basic TD's salary of around €92,000 "regardless of their years of service". TDs' salaries and expenses are funded from the budget given to the commission -- which is an average of €120m per year.

Last year, the State spent €17.6m on TD wages and another €10m on their expenses. Fine Gael has promised to reform the expenses system, where TDs can claim up €15,000 for office and constituency expenses without providing receipts.

Irish Independent

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