TDs' €2.3m in summer expenses
THE nation's TDs received over €2.3m in expenses payments between June and September, despite the Dail's 12-week break, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Figures published by the Houses of the Oireachtas showed that between the beginning of June and the end of September, members claimed €2,303,138, in total, between them -- even though the Dail rose on July 8 and only returned on September 29. The figures also showed that despite there being no committee hearings in August, as well as no Dail sittings, the 163 members of the lower house claimed €575,000 in expenses during the month.
The amount paid to members was heavily criticised yesterday. "They are living in a parallel universe and such revelations erode their moral authority," leading economist Jim Power said.
Overall, the top claimant was Fine Gael Cork South West TD PJ Sheehan, who received €21,180.
Mr Sheehan recently resigned as his party's deputy spokesman on agriculture, after the Sunday Independent revealed that he was involved in a drunken incident with a female garda who claimed he threatened her.
"I have no comment other than to say I am the furthest TD from the Dail and the closest to the White House. You would want to cop on. . ."
The next two highest claimants were independent Jackie Healy Rae and Fine Gael's Dinny McGinley, who each received €20,932 in expenses payments. Both face round trips of over 700kms from their homes to the Dail.
Behind them is Mr Sheehan's Cork South-West rival FF's Christy O'Sullivan, who received €20,680. Four TDs -- Niall Blaney (FF Donegal North East), Jimmy Deenihan (FG Kerry North), Michael Moynihan (FF Cork North West) and Tom Sheahan (FG Kerry South) -- all claimed €20,428 in expenses over the summer months.
According to the official figures, 17 TDs claimed in excess of €20,000 between June and September.
Of the party leaders, FG leader Enda Kenny led the way, receiving €16,616.