Michael Lowry asked for 85,000 Christmas cards to be printed
Published 24/12/2015 | 02:30
Former minister Michael Lowry is the TD who inquired about getting 85,000 Christmas cards from the Oireachtas printing office, the Irish Independent has learned.
The Tipperary representative says he was told the facility had a three-week backlog in the run-up to Christmas and as a result decided to get the cards printed locally at his own expense.
Mr Lowry has said somebody is "causing mischief" after rumours began to circulate yesterday that he had placed the massive order.
It comes after Senator Averil Power defended getting 73,000 calendars printed at expense of the taxpayer.
Ms Power, who has distributed the calendars in Dublin Bay North, where she is an independent election candidate, said their production is "precisely the point of the Oireachtas printing facility".
"Personally, my previous experience of printing the calendar is people find it very useful," she said.
It is estimated her calendars cost in the region of €2,950 to print and distribute. This included delivery to homes, shops and schools by volunteers and a leaflet company at a cost of €1,080.
The Irish Independent has learned Ms Power ordered 80,000 calendars for 2014.
Asked about the fact that as a senator, she does not have a constituency, Ms Power replied: "I deal with people from all over Ireland and with a lot of interest groups, particularly this year on things like marriage equality and adoption. But I live in Dublin Bay North so the majority of people I deal with come from there.
"I usually do three newsletters a year. I get people ringing the office looking for calendars. It's the one leaflet that people find useful.
"Some people take extra, we give them out to schools," she said.
The latest controversy over the use of printers in Leinster House was sparked when Renua's Lucinda Creighton complained she could not get newsletters printed.
She claimed one TD placed an order for 85,000 cards "which has essentially blocked up the whole system for the last number of weeks".
A spokesperson for the Oireachtas said that while they received an inquiry from an individual about producing that number of cards, the request was turned down.
"I can confirm that a member request was refused on the grounds that the content did not come within the guidelines laid down by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission," the spokesperson said.
"The job, therefore, never entered the print room for printing and so I can categorically say that no member had 85,000 cards printed."
Mr Lowry said he was told the printing works were booked out for three weeks.
"There was no cost to the taxpayer for my cards. They were designed by a local girl too," he said.
Ministers Charlie Flanagan, James Reilly, Michael Ring and Joe McHugh were among 22 members who ordered either Christmas cards or calendars in recent weeks.
Ms Power's order of 73,000 calenders was way above any of her colleagues. The next nearest being Limerick TDs Kieran O'Donnell and Niall Collins, who both ordered 30,000 calendars.
She said there "is a world of difference" between her calendar, which carries details of local facilities and Christmas cards.
However, on the calendar, the number for Raheny Garda Station is actually the number for Raheny Post Office.
The Oireachtas said there was a complete ban on material with content that could be construed as "electioneering".
What TDs and senators ordered for Christmas
- Independent Senator Averil Power - 73,000 calenders
- Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell - 30,000 A4 calenders
- Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins - 30,000 A4 calenders
- Fine Gael TD and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan - 17,500 A4 calenders
- Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae - 11,700 items (10,000 A4 calenders, 500 A3 calenders and 1,200 Christmas cards)
- Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan - 11,500 A4 calenders
- Labour TD Emmet Stagg - 6,000 cards
- Fine Gael Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring - 4,000 items (1,000 A7 calendar cards and 3,000 A7 cards)
- Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming - 4,000 A4 calenders
- Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan - 3,900 items (1,500 Christmas cards and 2,400 calendars)
- Independent Senator Jim Walsh - 2,500 Christmas cards
- Labour Senator John Kelly - 2,300 items (400 A4 calenders, 1,200 A3 calenders and 700 Christmas cards)
- Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward - 2,000 A4 calendars
- Fine Gael Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Joe McHugh - 1,600 Christmas cards
- Labour Senator Denis Landy - 1,500 Christmas cards
- Fine Gael TD Joe O'Reilly - 1,200 Christmas cards
- Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway - 1,000 Christmas cards
- Independent Senator David Norris - 600 Christmas cards
- Fine Gael TD and Minister for Children James Reilly - 500 Christmas cards
- Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett - 450 Christmas cards
- Fine Gael Senator Terry Brennan - 300 Christmas cards
- Fine Gael Senator Michael Comiskey - 200 Christmas cards