Thursday 19 April 2018

Ahern must submit receipts to claim expenses for secretaries

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has to submit receipts to be reimbursed for the cost of employing a secretary paid for by the taxpayer.

The perks given to former Taoisigh are being examined once again as Mr Ahern continues to claim more in expenses than his counterparts.

The former Fianna Fail leader has claimed €265,000 for secretarial services and €7,500 for mobile phone bills since resigning as Taoiseach in 2008.

His claims are far higher than fellow former Taoisigh Albert Reynolds and John Bruton, who also avail of the state-funded services.

The Government provides the former Taoisigh with the services to assist them in carrying out their role as members of the Council of State and other public engagements.

The Department of the Taoiseach said every aspect of spending, including the services for former Taoisigh, was under review as the Government prepared for the Budget.

A former Taoiseach can employ two secretaries for the first five years after his term ends and one secretary after that for the rest of his life.

The maximum amount that can be paid to any individual secretary is €55,415 per annum.

However, it is not clear how much Mr Ahern's secretaries are paid. He does avail of the offer of having two secretaries.

One of his secretaries is paid directly by the Department of the Taoiseach through its payroll system. The other is provided by an employment agency.

The employment agency submits monthly invoices to Mr Ahern. The agency cost incurred is reimbursed to him by the department when he submits vouched invoices and receipts.

"The scheme is up for review in the context of the Government's Comprehensive Review of Expenditure," the Department of the Taoiseach said.

Irish Independent

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