Sunday 22 September 2019

Oireachtas printing controversy: TD insists his 72,500 calendars 'are not for Christmas'

Seamus Healy,Independent deputy for Tipperary at Leinster House .Pic Tom Burke
Seamus Healy,Independent deputy for Tipperary at Leinster House .Pic Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

AN Independent TD has defended using in-house Oireachtas printing facilities to produce 72,500 calendars just days before the Dáil enters its Christmas recess.

Tipperary deputy Seamus Healy ordered the doubled-sided A4 calendars for constituents and supporters at a cost of €2,004.55, can reveal.

The quantity produced far outweighs the numbers ordered by any other TD or senator ahead of the festive period, according to figures released by the Oireachtas under the Freedom of Information Act.

But in a statement on Friday, Mr Healy defended the decision, telling that the calendars are not for Christmas.

“There is no reference to Christmas or the New Year on the calendars. They are in no way a replacement or substitute for Christmas cards.  To confuse my calendars with Christmas Cards is very misleading,” Mr Healy said.

“The calendars, which I ordered, are not Christmas calanders (sic).  They provide contact details for local hospitals, health centres, social welfare services, emergency services, garda services etc. Constituents need to have this information at hand so that they can quickly access the services to which they are entitled, sometimes in emergency situations. They also contain details of the 12 representation “clinics” I hold each week in all parts of my Tipperary,” he added.

The Seamus Healy calendar for 2017
The Seamus Healy calendar for 2017

Mr Healy went on to say that the calendars won’t be distributed until the New Year.

“My record as a public representative at local and national level is one of opposing unnecessary public expenditure. In over 30 years of public representation, I have never participated in “Junkets”. I have consistently opposed the allocation of expenditure for “junkets” at local authority and Oireachtas level. I have voted against the €5,400 pay restoration due to Dáil Deputies over the next 2 years and I have instructed the authorities not to include the increase in my salary.”

The data shows that 16 TDs and senators used the in-house facilities to produce cards and calendars. The overall cost this year for the cards and calendars is just short of €5,500.

These include Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins (35,000 calendars), Fianna Fáil senator Jennifer Murnane (15,000 calendars) and Michael Healy Rae (10,000 calendars).

Mr Healy Rae’s brother, Danny, ordered 8,500 calendars.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is the only member of Cabinet listed in the documents. He ordered 500 calendars.

Other deputies that availed of the taxpayer-funded facilities include Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan (1,250 cards), Fianna Fáil TD James Browne (6,000 calendars), Fianna Fáil TD Frank O’Rourke (1,000 calendars), Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O'Mahony (5,000 calendars), and her party colleague Niamh Smyth (5,000 calendars).

Fianna Fáil deputy Bobby Aylward ordered 2,000 calendars, while his party colleague Mary Butler used the facilities to produce 1,000 calendars.

Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly (5,400 calendars) and Fine Gael senator Martin Conway (750 Christmas cards) also availed of the service.

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