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TD used Dáil printer to make 70,000 calendars


Seamus Healy TD. Picture: Tom Burke

Seamus Healy TD. Picture: Tom Burke

Seamus Healy TD. Picture: Tom Burke

TDs and senators used Oireachtas printing facilities to produce 271,250 personalised calendars and 34,450 bespoke Christmas cards, according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act.

More than a quarter of the calendars were ordered by Independent TD for Tipperary Séamus Healy, who used the free printing facility to produce 70,000 of the items in 2018.

Niall Collins and Timmy Dooley, the Fianna Fáil TDs who were sacked from the party's frontbench over the recent Dáil voting controversy, each ordered 50,000 calendars in 2018.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was among 33 Oireachtas members who used the printing facility to produce Christmas cards last year, while 26 members used it to print calendars during the same period.

Fine Gael senators Frank Feighan, Paul Coghlan and Joe O'Reilly printed the largest number of Christmas cards, ordering a total of 3,000 each.

Junior Minister Paul Kehoe was the next-largest user of festive stationery, ordering 2,500 cards in December 2018.

Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell was at the head of the queue for festive greeting cards in 2018, placing an order for 500 as early as July 6.

The cost involved in printing the cards and calendars, such as paper and ink, was just under €10,000.

Other costs, such as pay for staff and graphic designers, were not available.

One Oireachtas member, Fianna Fáil senator Terry Leyden, used the printing facility to produce 500 calendars last year but paid for them himself.

"I thought they were quite useless, frankly. I didn't want the bother of having to explain why I got them," he said.

However, Mr Leyden said he would "neither encourage nor discourage" his colleagues from following his example of personally covering the cost of printing calendars or Christmas cards.

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"I never give advice to other Oireachtas members. It's a matter for themselves... judge not and thou shall not be judged," he said.

Mr Healy defended his use of the taxpayer-funded printing facilities to produce 70,000 calendars last year, pointing to the fact that they were the only items he had printed during the 12-month period.

He also said the calendars featured contact details for important services such as local hospitals, social welfare offices, and emergency services.

He said that he has always opposed unnecessary public expenditure, has voted against pay restoration for TDs, and has waived pay increases in each of the past two years.

The cost of printing facilities for TDs has been in the spotlight since it emerged that a new printer, that didn't fit into Leinster House, is likely to cost over €2m.

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