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'Ming' silent on which projects get half of his Dail salary

HIGH-profile Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, pictured, promised to use half his Dail salary to fund projects in his constituency when he was elected, but is now refusing to detail where the money is being spent.

Just after he was elected to the Dail last year, Mr Flanagan said he would donate half his €92,000 salary to funding projects in his constituency.

Mr Flanagan is also in receipt of the leader's allowance given to Independent TDs, and the Department of Finance says he gets €41,152 a year.

While other TDs, such as Fine Gael's Brendan Griffin, gifted part of their salary back to the State, Mr Flanagan said he would not do that because it would only be pumped into the banks.

"I would prefer that money to go into the legitimate, taxed economy and to be spent on swimming pools and recreational facilities," he said last year.

'Variety'

"There were a variety of options open to me -- one was that it would go back to the State, another was that it would go into a trust fund for recreational facilities in my constituency. If this country was being ran in such a way that all that money wasn't fired into Anglo Irish Bank . . . I would only be delighted for it to go back directly to the State.

"I think that money would be better off going to recreational facilities in my constituency. I am calling on all other members of Dail Eireann to follow suit."

One year on from his promise, the Irish Independent asked Mr Flanagan to detail what exactly he spent his money on, but he declined to do so.

"No, because I give it to groups on the basis that it is kept anonymous," the Roscommon-South Leitrim TD said. "Upon announcing that I would give up half my salary to local projects, I was deluged with enquiries from local groups.

"I then decided to donate on the basis of guaranteed anonymity. The alternative is that I get community groups complaining that one group was favoured over the other."

Mr Flanagan was then asked to provide broader details, but he did not respond to additional requests for information.

Irish Independent