Friday 22 September 2017

Kenny's claim ditching Seanad will save €20m queried

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

Questions have arisen in relation to the accuracy of a claim by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the abolition of the Seanad would save an estimated €20m annually in running the Oireachtas.

In a letter to the Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, a finance officer at the Houses of the Oireachtas has stated: "It is not possible at this stage to estimate the amount of net actual savings that would arise if the Seanad was abolished."

Gina Long added that while there would be savings in relation to salary and expenses costs, parliamentary printing, ICT and support costs, there would be "substantial increases" in pension costs and redundancy payments.

In the Dail earlier this month, Mr Kenny said the abolition of the Seanad would save an estimated €20m annually in running the Oireachtas: "I make no apology for seeking to cut the cost of politics in Ireland,'' he said.

The Fianna Fail leader subsequently tabled a question to the Taoiseach for answer on June 18 in relation to the savings, as well as to the cost for the Dail to sit an extra day a week. The Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett disallowed the question on the basis that the Taoiseach had no official responsibility to the Dail on the issue.

However, the Oireachtas Service, on behalf of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, has now provided the relevant information to Mr Martin as "good practice."

Ms Long told Mr Martin that the total running costs of the Seanad have been estimated "in the region of €20m per annum" based on the 2012 out-turn and which includes all direct and apportioned indirect costs.

She disclosed that the total direct costs of running the Seanad are €8.8m, comprising members' salary (€4.2m); members' expenses (€2.5m) and members' staff costs (€2.1m). In addition, the total indirect apportioned pay and non-pay costs of the supporting sections total an estimated €9.3m: ICT (€1.9m); superintendent (€1.6m); procedural sections (€2.8m) and other support sections (€3m).

There is also an annual cost of about €2m in pensions relating to the Seanad.

Notwithstanding Mr Kenny's statement that the abolition of the Seanad would save €20m annually, it is clear from Ms Long's letter that a cost benefit analysis has not been carried out.

Indeed, Ms Long states it is not possible to estimate the net actual savings and advises there would be substantial increases in pension costs and redundancy payments.

In addition, she states that the cost for the Dail to sit an extra day a week would depend on how many weeks the Dail sits in any year.

However, the marginal cost of an extra sitting day has been calculated at approximately €15,656, which includes parliamentary printing, broadcasting, e-voting, overtime, restaurant and energy costs.

Irish Independent

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