Monday 25 September 2017

Pearse Doherty will not have to repay travel expenses

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty. Photo: Collins
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty. Photo: Collins

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

SINN Fein's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty has bent Oireachtas rules to the limits to avoid having to repay €8,000 in misused travel expenses.

Mr Doherty revealed that he has persuaded the authorities to accept that he had forgotten to claim extra car costs for oil and tyres -- as well as AA membership (€72) and a driving licence renewal (€25).

The Donegal TD did not have to provide any proof of these expenses; the only requirement is that TDs declare that they have incurred them.

This means that he will not have to repay any of the money, due to the decision by the Leinster House authorities to accept his latest explanation.

Mr Doherty admitted again last night that he had used some of his expenses to employ two part-time staff in his Donegal constituency offices.

He had first tried to claim that he could avoid repaying the €8,000 concerned by putting it towards the €15,000 cost of buying his car.

The Irish Independent had revealed that he broke Dail rules by using €8,000 of his €33,000 in travel and accommodation expenses to hire party workers.

But after the Leinster House authorities rejected this attempt to claim a car purchase on expenses, Mr Doherty adopted a different approach.

He wrote to them saying he had only claimed for diesel and toll charges and had forgotten a number of car costs that he was entitled to claim.

These included oil, tyres, maintenance, insurance, road tax, driving licence, AA membership and depreciation in the value of his car.

Insurance

On this basis, Mr Doherty argued that he was entitled to claim the full civil service rate for the 45,000 miles he drives.

This increased his mileage claim from the €11,273 he had actually spent on diesel and toll charges to around €22,000.

Mr Doherty said that when his accommodation bill of €13,000 was included, this put him "in excess" of the €33,000 in expenses that he had claimed.

An Oireachtas source confirmed that Mr Doherty had now been sent a letter, stating that the regulations had been complied with "on this basis".

Irish Independent

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