Higgins gives TDs' pre-paid envelopes to protesters
JOE Higgins is giving pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes -- a perk for TDs paid for by the taxpayer -- to a group campaigning against the household charge.
The Socialist Party TD was found to be in breach of Leinster House travel expenses rules this week, by claiming expenses for travelling to anti-household charge meetings around the country.
Mr Higgins is providing Oireachtas envelopes to the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes.
The envelopes were used to advertise a meeting in his Dublin West constituency last night and the letters were on headed paper of the campaign.
The only reference to Mr Higgins on the letter is to acknowledge he covered the postage. The letter was sent out by Jimmy Dignam of the Dublin West Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT).
Mr Dignam also acts as a spokesman for the Socialist Party. He was unavailable for comment last night.
TDs are given 15,000 postage-paid envelopes a year to write to their constituents.
The Campaign Against the Household Tax is not actually part of the Socialist Party, but does have several links to Mr Higgins's party.
Socialist Party Councillor Ruth Coppinger is a spokesperson for the group.
CAHWT says it is a coalition including trade unionists, tenants' association organisers, TDs, and others against the €100 household charge.
Mr Higgins is going to fight a legal battle with the Leinster House authorities after they ruled he had to repay almost €1,000 in travel expenses.
The move came after three days of controversy regarding the use of travel expenses by him and two other left-wing TDs as they travelled throughout the country canvassing against the charge.
The Leinster House authorities received legal advice that it was not possible for TDs to use their travel expenses for such purposes, and that the money would have to be repaid.