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Dail turkeys feather the nest

Your editorial calling for leadership at the top by the taking of 'financial pain' by our politicians (Irish Independent, October 26) will be supported by all readers.

Pay cuts of 50pc, the abolition of 'turning up' money and other unvouched expenses are a prerequisite for ordinary citizens to accept more cuts.

However, my recent experiences in raising the issue of politicians' expenses make me doubt that any such action will be taken.

Last month I took part in 'Liveline' following an article I had written from my professional perspective as a chartered accountant about the 'reformed' expenses regime for politicians introduced in March 2010. My stand was supported by listeners. The only callers who did not support it were the head of communications at the Houses of the Oireachtas and Leo Varadkar, TD.

On the programme I offered my services free of charge to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to set up a proper expenses system. Some finance professionals contacted me afterwards offering to join my working group, also without fees.

I wrote to the minister on September 13, making the proposal and I received a reply saying he had sent my correspondence to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission -- which is the cross-party committee of politicians who proposed the current system to him! This response reminded me of Mary Harney's line -- 'it's not me, it's the HSE'.

I wrote again on October 7, pointing out that it is a matter for him as Minister for Finance and that the commission has a clear conflict of interest on the issue of expenses.

I also sent him a copy of the recently published book 'Snouts in the Trough', which details recent expenses scandals.

Almost three weeks later, my second letter hasn't even been acknowledged, and I have received nothing from the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, who have had my correspondence for several weeks.

We frequently read of huge fees paid to different professionals by the Government for advice that is sometimes of dubious value, or is ignored.

Here, professionals are offering -- in the spirit of public service -- to work for free to set up a better system that will save taxpayers' money but more importantly be accepted by the general public.

But as I wrote in my article, they (the politicians) make the rules, and turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

Enid O'Dowd FCA
Dublin 6

Irish Independent