Taxpayers hit for €15,000 as the iDeputies stay in touch
MEET the iDeputies -- TDs and senators who have billed the taxpayer for Apple iPhones.
Politicians are pushing the boat out when it comes to charging the taxpayer for their mobiles -- buying top of the range iPhones for €500-plus in some cases, and also charging for car kits and insurance.
And it's not just TDs who have been ordering the hi-tech phones -- senators have been getting in on the act too.
Records obtained by the Irish Independent under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show over 30 TDs and five senators have billed the Oireachtas for the top-end gadgets.
Leinster House rules allow TDs and senators an allowance to buy phones and car kits up to €750 every 18 months, and receipts submitted over the last year show the vast majority who availed of this chose iPhones, with 31 buying models of the iPhone 4.
In total, €15,364 was spent on mobile phones for TDs and senators, with more going on car kits and other accessories last year. Deputies and senators also have their mobile phone bills paid for on expenses.
At the top end of the scale, Fianna Fail Dublin senator Averil Power claimed €699 for a high memory 32-gigabyte iPhone 4. Only one other person bought a 32gb model, Senator Susan O'Keeffe, and this cost €459 through O2.
At the opposite end, left wing IndependentTD Seamus Healy was given a Nokia 6303i for free, but he did claim €99 for a car kit.
The scheme is not available to senior or junior ministers -- but one submitted claims just before making it to Cabinet.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald bought an iPhone 4 with cases and accessories for €409 on January 27, 2011, five days before the general election was called. And Ms Fitzgerald got a car kit fitted for €199 on March 7 last, two days before she was appointed to Cabinet.
Ms Power last night said she bought the phone directly from Apple rather than through suppliers like O2, Vodafone or Meteor because it would cost less in the long term.
"I looked at the packages from O2, Meteor and Vodafone and found that this was the best deal," the Dublin North-East politician said. "As a result I'm claiming less a month through my bill."
A spokesman for the Oireachtas said TDs and senators can also order iPads under an allowance given to them for computers.
However, it is unclear how many -- if any -- TDs availed of this, since this allowance does not have to be receipted.
Fine Gael's Michael Creed also claimed for insurance on his iPhone, costing €233.82 over 18 months.