Clock-in system for TDs stops gravy train in its tracks
TDs and senators will today start doing what normal people do every day as part of a new approach in Leinster House designed to show they 'feel our pain'.
Members of the Oireachtas will have to clock in for work when they return from their constituencies.
The new expenses regime -- which requires people to clock in to claim allowances such as travel and overnight rates -- began yesterday.
But most TDs and senators will only be returning from their constituencies today and will have to get to grips with the new system.
Although some may be greatly discommoded by this annoyance, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan felt he had to throw Joe and Josephine Public a bone after they gnashed their teeth over the expenses gravy train.
Now, in order to claim their readies, the politicians will have a fob to tag themselves in at one of several points on the Leinster House campus.
They must be on site 80pc of the time to claim the travel and accommodation allowance -- which ranges from €12,000 for those from the Dublin area to €37,850 for those 360km away. For senators, it ranges from €7,000 to €32,850.
It took a year to get this far on the issue, in the face of protests from some members.
The oireachtas chiefs have thought of everything, even closing the 'I don't know how to use the new system' loophole which may have cropped up. For those elected representatives who are technologically challenged, an old-fashioned way of signing in -- with a book and a pen -- will be available in the Leinster House 2000 extension.
Politicians should be advised that this is not a book of condolence for the recently buried political careers of Willie O'Dea, Trevor Sargent, Deirdre de Burca and George Lee. Neither is it a petition to get Taoiseach Brian Cowen to call an election or a recruiting post for the Tanaiste's newly founded Kildare Street branch of the Irish Feminist Movement.
Also unsubstantiated are rumours that Government Chief Whip Pat Carey asked for electronic ankle tags to be put on all TDs so he could pinpoint their precise locations. Mr Carey has had to put some manners on errant Fianna Fail TDs who have been missing for votes, such as Castlebar's finest, Beverly Flynn.
So, TDs and senators, remember when you leave your house this morning -- wallet, keys, phone, fob! Except if you're a minister, then your driver can do it for you.
And who says they don't live in the real world?