Revealed: the €24m in salaries and expenses we pay to our 12 MEPs
IRELAND'S 12 MEPs have cost the taxpayer an average of €2m each in generous salaries, expenses and allowances, the Irish Independent can reveal.
For the first time, we disclose the full extent of the MEP gravy train, which has cost taxpayers €24m in total since the politicians were elected in 2009.
According to the figures, six of the 12 MEPs have cost taxpayers more than €2m.
The top claimant was Fianna Fail MEP for Ireland North West and election candidate Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher, who had costs totalling €2,174,314.
In contrast, Fine Gael's Ireland South MEP, former GAA president Sean Kelly, had combined costs totalling €1,630,609 for the period.
Independent MEP for Ireland North West Marian Harkin, who got €2,154,028, told the Irish Independent that people needed to know what their MEPs were claiming.
Independent MEP for Ireland East Nessa Childers received €2,040,899. Fine Gael MEP for Ireland North West Jim Higgins got €2,099,520 and Ireland East FG MEP Mairead McGuinness got €2,051,750.
For all of the MEPs elected in 2009, their gross salaries amount to €427,120 until the end of 2013. They are each entitled to staff cost allowances of €255,000 a year plus office cost allowances of €51,600 a year.
Calls from within the parliament to end the "generous and bloated expenses regime" have to date been opposed by a majority of MEPs.
MEPs are not required to provide receipts proving how they spend their expenses, with the EU saying it is a "matter of honour" that the money is spent correctly.
The substantial costs incurred relate to:
* Salaries paid to MEPs;
* Expenses paid to cover their travel, up to and including business-class flights and first-class train tickets;
* Expenses on hotels and taxis;
* Keeping staffs of up to six people each;
* Maintaining offices in Ireland and in Europe.
The figures were compiled using data from the European Union, publicly available information and voluntary declarations from the MEPs.
Fine Gael's MEP for Dublin, Gay Mitchell, who is not running again and who did not respond to queries from the Irish Independent, had combined salary and expenses costs totalling €1,978,528 for the period up until the end of December 2013.
Fianna Fail MEP for Ireland South Brian Crowley had combined salary and expenses costs of €1,914,761.
Our figures relate to the period from when the MEPs were elected in mid-2009 to December 31, 2013. As a result, the final total cost of our representatives will be closer to €27m when 2014 costs are included.
Three of the 12 MEPs elected in 2009 have since retired or stood down from their seats.
Former Democratic Left leader Proinsias De Rossa, who retired as Labour's Dublin MEP in February 2012, between salary, expenses and staff expenses, received €721,636.
His replacement, Emer Costello, accumulated salary and expenses totalling €896,498 for the 22 months up until December 2013.
The current junior transport minister, Labour's Alan Kelly, and Socialist TD Joe Higgins were each paid salaries of €167,076 for the period up until they were elected to the Dail in February 2011. They both also received travel expenses and staff cost allowances totalling €535,689, bringing their total costs to €702,765 each.
Mr Kelly's replacement in mid-2011 was Labour's Phil Prendergast, who accumulated salary and expenses totalling €1,188,566.
Socialist MEP Paul Murphy replaced Mr Higgins, and has accumulated salary and expenses costs of €1,343,117 for the period.