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'Ming' Flanagan failed to clock in to Dail 14 times

CONTROVERSIAL Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan has emerged as the most forgetful TD for clocking in to work in Leinster House.

He forgot to swipe his electronic key fob in machines in Leinster House 14 times last year -- and had to get the records corrected.

Mr Flanagan had been present in Leinster House on days that he failed to clock in -- with Dail voting records showing that he voted against the suspension of fellow TDs, the social welfare bill and against the Oireachtas Inquiries bill on different dates last year.

"I would have thought about it on 40 occasions but when I'd be heading to do it, I'd get another call, so work takes priority over fobbing in," Mr Flanagan said.

Under the current expenses system, TDs are required to clock in at least 120 days per year to claim their full travel and accommodation expenses worth up to €37,850.

If they forget to "fob in", they have to provide proof they were present -- such as a record of their vote in the Dail that day, their attendance at a committee or a room booking for visitors. In exceptional circumstances, they can get the chief whip of their party to declare that he/she spotted them in Leinster House that day.

Turf-cutting

Mr Flanagan, who has refused to pay the €100 household charge and is promising to defy the state's turf-cutting ban on his bog, said he was the busiest TD in the Dail.

"My days are so busy at times that I don't even get a chance to fob in," he said.

Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show his clocking in record has improved this year, with his attendance recorded every day in the first two months of the current Dail term.

The records excluded TDs who were allowed to record themselves as present for reasons of illness. TDs are also allowed to record themselves present if they are travelling abroad on official business.

Fine Gael Cavan-Monaghan TD Joe O'Reilly said he had to correct the record for 12 days last year because he was attending meetings of the Council of Europe, the Paris-based body set up to defend human rights.

"I'm the leader of the Irish delegation and we're very conscious of the need to present a positive image of Ireland abroad," he said.

Fine Gael Cork North Central TD Aine Collins forgot to fob in on her first official day in the Dail when Enda Kenny was being elected Taoiseach. And she said that leaving her fob at home in Cork was the main reason why she had to correct the record nine times last year.

All TDs qualified for their full travel and accommodation allowance expenses last year.

Irish Independent