TDs back reform of lucrative expenses regime
reform of the "archaic" expenses system has been backed by TDs after new figures showed they claimed €8m last year.
These included claims for travelling to and from the Dail, for overnight accommodation, and for allowances such as €8,000 to rent a constituency office and up to €7,500 to pay for telephone bills.
Sweeping changes to the expenses system are set to be introduced and backdated to January 1. But Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has not yet announced details of the changes.
The top claimant last year was Fianna Fail Galway East TD Noel Treacy (€85,217), who also got €10,016 for chairing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. He could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
The second-highest claimant was Fine Gael Sligo North Leitrim TD John Perry who got €81,516, as well as a further €10,016 for chairing the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny. Mr Perry said he did not wish to make any comment on his expenses.
The next highest was Fine Gael Mayo TD Michael Ring (€86,527).
Fianna Fail parliamentary party chairman John Browne said he had no problem with the forthcoming reform of the expenses system.
"It will be fully transparent and certain elements will be vouched, with a signing-in system (for TDs). The sooner Minister Lenihan brings it in the better," he said.
Mr Browne disputed some of the figures published for his 2009 expenses in the Sunday Independent (€66,999 plus €16,018 for being a member of the Oireachtas Commission).
He said he was only appointed as a member of the commission last month and would not receive the €16,018 payment until 2010.
Fianna Fail Dublin South Central TD Sean Ardagh had the highest claim of the politicians based in the capital, with €56,456 claimed in expenses last year. He claimed €19,296 in travel expenses -- despite living five miles away from the Dail in Walkinstown.
Mr Ardagh told Newstalk 106 that he only claimed for what he was legitimately entitled to.
However, Mr Ardagh acknowledged that the system of allowing TDs such as himself living within 15 miles of the Dail to claim €55 a day for turning up was "archaic". He said he agreed that "some adjustment was needed".