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It is no crime for senators and TDs to omit interests

The Register of Interests for TDs and senators is designed to ensure there are no hidden conflicts of interest.

It requires them to declare any other income above €2,600 they are receiving (such as rental income or director's fees) -- but not the actual amount.

They also have to declare any shares or bonds worth in excess of €13,000. But this means that a TD with shares of €12,999 in Anglo, for example, would not be required to declare them.

TDs and senators have to give names of companies of which they are directors. Often voluntary or community organisations are listed here.

They have to declare any land or property they own that is worth more than €13,000.

They must also declare gifts worth more than €650, but it is rare to see gifts listed in the register.

But it is not a criminal offence for TDs or senators to deliberately omit a property or details of share ownership. It is merely a contravention, which could see them hauled before the Dail or Seanad committee on members' interests.

The penalties they could face include censure (an official reprimand), suspension for up to 30 days and the docking of their pay during that period.

There are stricter rules for local councillors under the Local Government Act. It is a criminal offence for them to deliberately leave out details of their interest in land, property or shares.

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