Wednesday 24 January 2018

Trampoline installed - but no jump in politicians using €41k Dáil gym

Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke
Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

John Lawrence

New TDs can now literally jump for joy on a trampoline that features in the Dáil's €41,000 gym.

The 4ft trampoline has been itemised on a list of equipment installed in the 60 square metre Oireachtas fitness room, alongside treadmills with attached plasma screens, bike and rowing machines, dumbbell sets, leg and chest presses, and an ab trainer

But new Freedom of Information (FOI) figures show that over the past three years, the number of TDs and senators using the centre across the road from Leinster House has plunged dramatically.

It's believed several politicians have never used it. "If you gave me a million euro, I couldn't tell you where it is," confessed Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, adding how he stays in shape by taking nightly walks and travelling around Dublin on his bike.

However, he believes the gym should remain open.

Not a single politician used the taxpayer-funded gym - which also has showers and changing rooms - over the month of August in 2015.

Nine visits by politicians were recorded in September 2015, and just 12 in October.

Total annual visits to the centre by elected officials numbered 449 in 2013, but dropped to 308 in 2015.

Running costs of the gym were €36,577 in 2013, €36,253 in 2014, but rose to €40,936 in 2015 when a new two-year contract was signed with an external leisure operator.

Political staff and civil servants on the Oireachtas payroll can also work out at the venue on Kildare Street for free - with more than 4,000 visits to the gym made by staff in 2015.

An Oireachtas spokeswoman said satisfaction surveys confirmed the fitness room was a "popular and well-supported facility which contributes towards the health and well-being of both members and the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas".

Irish Independent

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