It's a Christmas card, John ... but not as we know it
TDs and senators spent more than €10,000 of taxpayers' money on greetings cards to friends and associates at Christmas.
But the Oireachtas could not provide a detailed breakdown to show which TDs or senators had the most cards printed off.
A spokeswoman for the Houses of the Oireachtas said the in-house printing facility was open to all TDs and senators, and 132 availed of it at an average cost of less than half a cent per card.
It comes after Waterford Independent TD John Halligan -- an avowed atheist -- sent out 800 alien-themed Christmas cards to people in Ireland and abroad.
In total, 217,020 cards were printed by the Oireachtas for TDs and senators to use. A spokeswoman said this worked out at 0.044c for each one.
The total bill of €9,622 was made up of €7,166 in paper costs, €2,376 in printing plate costs and €80 on printer ink.
Mr Halligan also admitted sending some out in Oireachtas envelopes, which TDs and senators can post free of charge.
The Oireachtas spokeswoman added that it was impossible to say how many members had done this. "We have no way of knowing whether these cards were posted or not and if they were posted, whether Oireachtas envelopes were used or not," she said.
Mr Halligan said since he was an atheist, he sent out the alien-themed cards -- complete with spaceships -- as an alternative to traditional Christmas scenes.
"I've kept up the reputation of sending an oddball Christmas card to people at Christmastime," Mr Halligan told RTE Radio's 'John Murray Show' yesterday.
"They go down quite well. Often people have rang me and asked me what it's about and I say, 'Well, it's a different card'."