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Independents must give up cash

Just when it seemed as if we had heard all that there was to hear about the taxpayer-funded largesse that has been showered on our TDs and senators, another egregious example is unearthed.

While the fact that all Independent TDs receive an untaxed and unvouched "leader's allowance" of €42,000 a year is widely known, less well known was the fact that Independent senators had also got in on the act, being paid their own "leader's allowance" of €23,000.

Having been on the receiving end of criticism from the Independent TDs and senators for their own excesses, the large parties are now hitting back. Yesterday Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming told the Public Accounts Committee that up to 17 Independent senators are receiving the payment, which he described as the "best kept secret in political life".

Not after yesterday it isn't, which was presumably Mr Fleming's intention. Mr Fleming deserves our congratulation for exposing this taxpayer-funded boondoggle.

Such Celtic Tiger-era bungs have no place in the new, financially straitened Ireland.

While the Independent TDs and senators are perfectly within their rights in taking the political parties to task, what is sauce for the political party goose should also be sauce for the Independent gander.

If Independent parliamentarians wish voters to take their criticisms of the political parties seriously then they should immediately surrender their "leader's allowance".