TD expenses are 'generous' compared to rest of world
TDs get "generous" expenses compared to other politicians worldwide, the most senior civil servant in the Oireachtas has admitted.
Dail Clerk Kieran Coughlan, who is also a member of the Houses Oireachtas commission, the body which runs Leinster House, said officials have compared TDs' expenses to other members of parliament internationally.
However, Mr Coughlan said no detailed comparisons have been carried out, but told the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) there had been some limited checks made with other systems, although he did not provide any details.
"They're relatively generous when compared to other parliaments," Mr Coughlan, under questioning from TDs yesterday, said of Dail expenses. TDs are paid expenses in two strands, the Public Representation Allowance (PRA) and the Travel and Accommodation Allowance(TAA).
The PRA covers areas such as office rent, rates, utilities, insurance, cleaning, leaflets and computer costs. Under the PRA, TDs and senators can opt for vouched or unvouched expenses, with a maximum of €12,000 for ministers, €15,000 for TDs and €9,250 for senators. Those on the vouched system get €20,000, €25,700 and €15,000.
The TAA covers the costs of travel to and from Leinster House, accommodation if needed and constituency travel.
A total of €31.7m was paid last year in salaries and expenses to TDs, ministers and senators, but this figure does not include the leader's allowance paid to political parties and Independent TDs.
According to details supplied by Mr Coughlan, almost three-quarters of backbench TDs use the vouched system, and submit receipts for their expenses.
A number of TDs at the PAC yesterday, including chairman John McGuinness, Fine Gael's Eoghan Murphy and Sinn Fein's Mary-Lou McDonald, said that all expenses should be vouched.