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€100k claimed in expenses by Combat Poverty board

Board members of the Combat Poverty Agency (CPA) were paid nearly €100,000 in expenses in three and a half years.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that six board members were paid €37,957 in expenses last year alone.

The amount came to €16,700 for the first six months of this year, while €24,869 was paid out in 2007.

In 2006, a total of €17,519 was claimed, bringing the overall sum for the period to €97,045.

The agency had 13 board members before it was abolished and its functions integrated into the Department of Social and Family Affairs in July this year.

Tony Lane claimed the highest sum last year, receiving €11,327 in expenses.

The money was paid to cover travel and subsistence costs for Mr Lane as he attended agency meetings. He could not be contacted for a comment.

Fianna Fail councillor Maria Gorman received €9,554 in 2008.

"There was a lot of work being done. There was a board there as you know.

"You see my expenses there -- three hundred odd euro to go from Listowel to Dublin to spend the day in Dublin and to stay in Dublin, I can tell you I didn't have much out of it," the town councillor said.


"It was just very, very basic. Sometimes if I couldn't stay in Dublin the night before I'd have to get up at three o'clock in the morning here and go to the nearest train, which was in Limerick.

"I'd have to drive from here to Limerick, which is over an hour from here.

"So it was hard work but I didn't mind, I enjoyed it. It's no longer in existence and it hasn't been or it won't be."

Ms Gorman said the work of the agency was very valuable.

"We were very disappointed that it was axed. That was the start of the cutbacks.

"That decision to do that was made the previous year," she added.

Among the other board members who were paid expenses last year were Eugene Russell (€309), Peter McKevitt (€2,989) and Tony O'Callaghan (€5,527).

The agency lost 40pc of its staff as part of its integration into the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

It was subsumed into the department's Office of Social Inclusion (OSI).

A former director of the CPA, Hugh Frazer, wrote earlier this year that the abolition of the agency was part of a "wider political effort to control dissenting voices".

Mr Frazer said he felt there was a "consistent effort to suppress the voices of those who advocate on behalf of the marginalised".