Wednesday 17 January 2018

Minister defends expenses for holiday season

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Environment Minister John Gormley yesterday defended his expenses, including a claim for turning up to work on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

The Greens leader also claimed his party was the victim of the "politics of demonisation", similar to US politics.

A request by a member of the public for an inquiry into Mr Gormley's €200,000 worth of expenses over 10 years as a TD, before he became a minister, was rejected by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Between 1997 and 2007, Mr Gormley claimed daily expenses to cover travel and subsistence for going to the Dail, as is normal for TDs, worth €143,151.

But on one occasion in 1997 these claims included Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Mr Gormley said he had "absolutely nothing" to be ashamed of regarding his expenses and his claims were always extremely low.

"I work all the time and I am not boasting by saying that, but that's just a fact. What I can say to you is, look at my expenses, compare my expenses if you want to those of my constituency colleagues. It averages out at around €18,000 a year. That's substantially lower than anybody else," he said.

"Isn't this remarkable that a complaint that has been found to be without foundation appears in a newspaper and I am here answering questions about it," he added on RTE's 'Today with Pat Kenny' show.

Mr Gormley claimed his party was the victim of false and unfair attacks.

He described newspaper reports concerning him and his policies as a "non-story".

"We are getting into a situation in this country where we have the politics of demonisation and scapegoating. We have a situation similar to the United States, where Republican voters apparently, 42pc of them, now believe Barack Obama was not born in the United States and we're getting to that situation," he said.

Irish Independent

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