CONTROVERSY has erupted over Louth TD Gerry Adams's Dail attendance record which was described last week as ' one of the worst of all our TDs'.
Figures compiled by the Irish Independent show the Sinn Fein leader was absent for one in four Dáil sitting days during the first half of the year, missing 17 of the 68 days on which the Dáil sat from January to the end of June 2012.
Ten of the days missed were Thursdays, 'effectively giving the Louth TD a two-day week on a regular basis'. He missed 22 out of 99 Dail sitting days last year. And while the Dáil does not meet every Friday, it does have special monthly Friday sittings, of which Mr. Adams missed four in six months. Mr. Adams, who is paid €92,000 and claimed €48,000 in expenses last year, is almost always in the Dail on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to take part in leaders' questions.
It is understood that Mr. Adams is currently out of the country, but a spokesperson for Sinn Fein defended its leader's attendance record and said he made 'no apologies for taking the time...to meet those communities suffering as a result of this government's austerity policy'.
In a statement, the spokesperson said: ' The figures relate only for the period from January to June. It ignores July when the Dáil sat eleven days and the Sinn Féin leader was present for each day.
'Thus far this year Gerry Adams has attended 62 out of the 79 sitting days. This is a 78.5 per cent attendance record on sitting days. On at least one of the days Gerry Adams was in attendance but did not sign in.
'The Sinn Féin president has also attended the Dáil on 16 non-sitting days, which makes a total of 78 days, to carry out his Dáil and constituency duties.
'In his first year as a TD, Gerry Adams fulfilled the requisite number of attendance days and according to KildareStreet.com, Gerry Adams has spoken in 249 debates in the last year – well above average among TDs, and has received answers to 852 written questions in the last year - well above average.
'Mr Adams was also involved in the referendum campaign and this, combined with days when he was unable to attend due to bereavements and several days when he was off due to personal injury, account for his Dáil attendance figures'.