Independent TDs face tough new rules on Dail allowances
INDEPENDENT TDs will have to show receipts for their annual €41,000 leader's allowance under a new clampdown on the untaxed cash.
The currently unvouched payment is given to Independent TDs on top of their €92,000 annual salary.
It is designed to allow the TDs fund political activities and is allocated because the TDs do not belong to parties, which get separate allowances.
The clampdown comes after the Irish Independent revealed yesterday that Wexford TD Mick Wallace is now drawing down the payment -- after a year of not taking the cash.
Mr Wallace was listed as a tax defaulter in June, owing €2.1m to the Revenue Commissioners, after he had made a false declaration in respect of his M&J Wallace construction firm.
Up until the end of last year, Mr Wallace was the only Independent TD not to claim the allowance -- but he started taking it in recent months.
However, he has refused to say if he decided to draw down the payment following revelations about his massive tax bill.
In June, Mr Wallace said he would give up half of his €92,000 salary to help pay his tax debt as part of an agreed settlement with the Revenue.
However, he did not mention the decision to start taking the €41,000 annual allowance -- meaning that he is now effectively better off than he was last year in terms of the money he receives from the Oireachtas.
Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin is expected to bring the results of a review of the leader's allowance to Cabinet soon. But sources in his department have told this newspaper that non-party TDs and senators will have to produce receipts in future -- a change from the current system.
The new changes will not be brought in as part of budget measures but are expected to be part of stand-alone legislation.
It is also understood that the changes will be enacted within the lifetime of the current Dail.
Dublin Bay North Independent TD Finian McGrath last night welcomed moves to require receipts.
He added: "We use it (the allowance) for research, development and Dail reports. We also employ a member of staff to service the technical group. I welcome the fact that expenses will have to be vouched."
Senators also get a leader's allowance of €23,000. Independent senator Fiach Mac Conghail said earlier this year that his €23,000 went "to support arts projects and charities", as did his basic €65,000 salary.