Monday 19 March 2018

Probe after computers go missing in Leinster House

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

GARDAI have been notified about the disappearance of computers and other items worth €12,000 from Leinster House. It follows an internal investigation that revealed 17 pieces of IT equipment were missing after last year's general election campaign.

TDs are supplied with three personal computers – one for their own use, one for their secretary and one for their parliamentary assistant. Senators are also provided with a personal computer.

Politicians are obliged to hand back the computers if they lose their seats or retire.

The Oireachtas Commission, which runs Leinster House, has ruled out the possibility that the computers were taken away by former members of the Dail or Seanad.

It said the missing equipment had not been assigned to current or former TDs or senators.

The commission said in a statement: "Following an internal investigation and failure to recover the assets, the matter was referred to An Garda Siochana."

Computers are supplied not only to TDs but to staff who work in Leinster House.

The commission did not respond to further queries about whether the investigation was now focused on staff there. It also refused to say exactly how many computers were among the "17 assets" of IT equipment now missing.

The IT equipment cost €12,434 to buy, but its current value is €4,900 when depreciation is taken into account.

The commission revealed the loss in a footnote to the accounts in its recently published annual report.

TDs and senators are due soon to get iPads worth €739 each as part of a plan to create a "paperless" Dail. They will be allowed to claim back the cost on their expenses and keep the iPads if they lose their seats. This is despite complaints from a number of backbenchers that it was in- appropriate to be getting free iPads in the midst of a recession.

Although the plan had been to supply the iPads by Christmas, they will not be available until some time in February because of the need to organise deliveries and integrate them with the Leinster House computer network. The commission also re-vealed that it made payments of €16,867 to 13 Leinster House staff last year on top of their salaries – an average of almost €1,300 each. It said the payments were "in acknowledgement of their exceptional performance".

Although the commission did not supply details of what this exceptional performance was, it said the payments did not contravene the Government's ban on bonuses in the public sector.

"These were relatively small payments to staff of various grades for additional responsibilities and additional work undertaken by them," it said.

A spokesman for the Garda Press Office said they would answer questions about the investigation after contacting the "approrpriate section" of the force.

Irish Independent

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