Politicians print nearly 4 million items in first 5 months of year
Nearly four million newsletters, flyers, greeting cards and other pieces of political stationery have been printed for TDs and senators at taxpayers' expense during the first five months of the year.
A total of 169 politicians used the Oireachtas print facility to produce 3,958,384 copies of paper items including posters, sympathy cards, bookmarkers and leaflets.
Placed end to end, the printed material would stretch from Dublin to Berlin - a distance of more than 1,300km.
The quantity of stationery and literature being generated for Oireachtas members has been criticised by the environmental charity Voice, which described many of the items as "superfluous".
They included 183,000 party- branded "Know Where You Stand" booklets, which outline welfare and taxation benefits.
A total of 15,060 greeting cards have been printed by the state-funded facility since the beginning of the year, 10,000 of which were ordered by Independent TD for Kerry South Michael Healy-Rae.
Mr Healy-Rae also had 10,500 sympathy cards produced.
The only other politician to have ordered sympathy cards this year was Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who requested 1,250.
A print order of 1,000 St Patrick's Day cards was also produced for Fianna Fail senator Brian O Domhnaill, according to records released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Other items printed include 60,500 business cards, 78,800 compliments slips, 6,650 visitors' books and 10,600 posters advertising advice clinics.
A total of 20,000 bookmarkers were produced for TDs and senators. Of these, 5,000 were ordered by Fine Gael's Colm Brophy, Martin Conway and Hildegarde Naughton. The remaining 15,000 were ordered by Mr Healy-Rae.
Oireachtas members who have ordered the highest volumes of printed material include Fianna Fail TDs Darragh O'Brien (127,000 copies), John Curran (113,400) and John Lahart (104,300).
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald ordered 78,000 copies of political literature and stationery. Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy had 89,500 copies printed, while Mr Healy-Rae printed a total of 99,500.
"A lot of this stuff that goes through people's letterboxes is superfluous," said Voice co-ordinator Mindy O'Brien.
"The Government should be leading by example. If you want to encourage people to be more environmentally friendly, you've got to start in your own office."
According to Oireachtas guidelines, the print facility must be used only for material relating to the parliament and the representation of constituents. It precludes electioneering or campaigning messaging.
The Houses of the Oireachtas and Mr Healy-Rae did not respond to requests for comment.