Tuesday 24 October 2017

Fianna Fail TDs bottom of list for Dail attendance

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

TWO of Fianna Fail's mavericks have the worst attendance records in the Dail, new figures revealed last night.

Former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea and rebel backbencher Jim McDaid, who resigned last month, are at the bottom of the attendance league.

Mr McDaid was by far the worst Dail attendee -- turning up for just 36 of the 59 sitting days since March -- according to figures published by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The former Donegal North East TD, who shocked Fianna Fail by resigning last month, will not receive the full package of lucrative expenses as he did not reach the 100-day target.

Under the new expenses system, TDs have to clock in to clock up expenses.

Where attendance is below the required 100 days, politicians will have to repay 1pc of the allowance for each day they missed.

And already 32 TDs -- many of whom are Dublin-based and living closer to the Dail than rural TDs -- have hit the 100-day target. Others now face losing between €100 and €300 for each day below the 100-day target.


There is likely to be a major scramble by TDs between now and the Christmas break to ensure they hit their attendance target. The full travel and accommodation expenses are worth up to €37,000 annually.

Second in the league of worst attendees is Mr O'Dea, who returned to the Fianna Fail backbenches in February.

In the immediate aftermath of his resignation as minister, Mr O'Dea was given permission by the Government Chief Whip's office to miss some Dail votes so he could sort out his affairs. The Limerick West TD was forced to step down earlier this year after it emerged he gave false information in a sworn affidavit and the Green Party piled pressure on the Taoiseach to act.

Mr O'Dea has attended the Dail on 48 sitting days and 14 non-sitting days -- bringing his attendance to 62 days.

The former minister now stands to lose out on significant expenses because of his poor attendance rate.

Others who are also facing a reduction in their expenses are Fine Gael's Shane McEntee and Fianna Fail's Michael Moynihan who attended the Dail 66 and 67 times respectively.

The expenses system provides for exceptions due to ill health, foreign travel and domestic committee travel, as well as "extraordinary circumstances" which could not be foreseen by TDs.

The new expenses regime is aimed at shaving millions off the €12m annual Oireachtas members' expenses bill.

Irish Independent

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