Saturday 20 October 2018

Publication of figures backed by politicians

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

POLITICIANS have backed calls for the publication of their expenses on a month-by-month basis following controversy over the 'Top 10' claimants.

According to reports, the top 10 TD claimants received payments of €727,382 in total for expenses such as business class flights, stays in five-star hotels and mobile phone bills. There was also a €28,000 bill for retaining professional "media services", dinner and drinks and taxi fares.

The top 10 claimants last year were: Fine Gael Clare TD Pat Breen (€81,379); Fine Gael Cork South West TD PJ Sheehan (€80,638); Fianna Fail Waterford TD Brendan Keneally (€73,857); Fine Gael Tipperary South TD Tom Hayes (€71,606); Fianna Fail Mayo TD Beverley Flynn (€71,151); Fianna Fail Donegal North East TD Niall Blaney (€70,946); independent Kerry South TD Jackie Healy-Rae (€69,682); Fianna Fail Cork East TD Ned O'Keeffe (€69,508); Fianna Fail Limerick West TD John Creegan (€69,412) and Fine Gael Limerick West TD Dan Neville (€69,203).

Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae was last night showing no signs of embarrassment at his claim for €69,682 last year, which included travel from his base in Kerry to Dublin.

"I could go looking for a (government) jet too in the position I'm in and all I'm looking for is to go on the train and drive the car," he said. But there is an emerging consensus among politicians such as independent senator Joe O'Toole that the regular release of detailed expense figures was now needed to assuage public concern.

Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said it would be more transparent if the public knew where taxpayers' money went.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has run into opposition from TDs and senators to his plan to reform the expenses system. Last week, he signed a statutory instrument which will allow him to bring in an "all-in-one expenses system" to replace multiple expenses claims made by TDs and senators for office, telephone, mileage and overnight/daily subsistence.

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