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No change

• So Brendan Howlin (Irish Independent, October 20), responding to an Irish Independent article, has "made no change to the Oireachtas expenses regime in respect of travel".

Consider the current situation: €12,000 per annum is paid to TDs who live within 25km of the Dail for their 'travel' expenses while old-age pensioners get €11,976 per annum to live on, and face the possible curtailment of their free travel passes in the budget.

TDs who live between 25km and 60km from the Dail receive €28,106 per annum for travel, which is more than many people earn before deductions for income tax, PRSI and USC!

These payments are tax-free and unvouched. Clocking in (but not out) does not 'vouch' that these expenses are actually incurred.

I ask Mr Howlin to justify why politicians who live within normal commuting distance of the Dail (their workplace) should have their travel-to-work costs paid when 'ordinary workers' pay their own travel costs.

A little-known section of the Constitution (section 15.15) permits the payment of tax-free allowances to politicians for travel and other expenses but this was never intended to be abused as it is now.

No reasonable person could oppose travel and accommodation expenses for politicians who live too far for a daily commute, or for travel expenses within the constituency, but such payments must be on a properly vouched basis involving the submission of a detailed claim with receipts.

Enid O'Dowd, FCA
Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Irish Independent