FORMER Fianna Fail Junior Minister Jim McDaid was forced to repay €12,200 for failing to 'clock in' enough times in Leinster House last year, writes Michael Brennan.
Mr McDaid had the worst voting record in Leinster House in 2009 and he failed last year to register the required 100 attendance days to claim his full Oireachtas expenses.
Before his shock decision to resign as a TD last November, he had only attended Leinster House 36 times despite getting paid travel and accommodation expenses for 80 days.
This year, TDs will have to attend Leinster House for 120 days to claim their full expenses for travel and accommodation, which can be almost €38,000 for TDs living 360 kilometres from Dublin.
Mr McDaid could not be contacted for comment yesterday. But he told a Sunday newspaper that he knew he hadn't attended enough. He said the travel expenses system was biased against TDs who lived a long way from the capital.
"I'm not complaining about my own case but they should look at the fairness of a system where a Dublin TD only has to attend as much as someone in a peripheral county," he said.
But the pressure on rural-based TDs is set to intensify when the number of Dail sitting days is increased from three to four.
That will mean TDs based outside of Dublin will have to stay an extra night away from home to attend the Dail on Fridays, which will increase the strain on those with families.
One Donegal political source said yesterday that Mr McDaid was keeping busy since his retirement from politics in his GP practice in Letterkenny and was displaying no signs of missing politics.
He has a combined TD's and minister's pension worth €75,000 a year.
Other TDs who were forced to repay travel expenses after not clocking in enough times to the Dail last year included Fianna Fail's Willie O'Dea and Beverley Flynn.