€6m - the gravy train of TDs' expenses on top of their €92k salary
TDS have shared a staggering €6m expenses pot since March, new figures revealed today.
The figures – which reveal that around €60,000 is paid out for every day the parliament sits – proves that the Oireachtas gravy train is well and truly in operation.
The Herald can reveal that almost half of the 166 TDs claim expenses through unvouched expenses – meaning they do not need to file receipts.
Close to €600,000 was claimed by the deputies in December, with the total expenses bill since the new Dail sat in March coming to a whopping €6m.
TDs are entitled to a ‘travel and accommodation allowance' which is greater depending on the distance between a politician's constituency and Leinster House.
And deputies also claim a ‘public representation allowance' which is used for organising meetings, printing leaflets and other similar costs.
TDs based in parts of Munster, Connacht and Ulster can claim over €5,000 per month.
And deputies from the capital receive combined expenses of between €1,000-€3,000 per month.
The tidy sums are on top of the €92,672 salary that the average TD already takes home.
Previously, details of our politicians’ expenses were only available through a Freedom of Information request.
However a new expenses regime was introduced in March 2010, which ensured that all expenses are uploaded to the Oireachtas website on a monthly basis.
Members can opt to have their expenses vouched – whereby they are backed up by official receipts – or unvouched.
The allowances themselves cover the likes of fuel costs, accommodation, insurance, cleaning and telephone bills.
Members must attend a minimum of 120 days per year to receive their expenses in full.
However, the expenses system continues to attract criticism and is facing further reform.
“There's no doubt some TDs choose to have their expenses unvouched so that they don’t have to provide receipts. It's not right and it does leave the system open to abuse,” one source told the Herald today.
An Oireachtas spokesperson said the expenses regime was being reviewed.
“Given the significant level of change introduced by the new system, it was considered appropriate at the time of its introduction to review the system after its first year of operation,” the spokesperson said.
“The Oireachtas is now honouring that commitment. The review into Members' allowances is being conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in conjunction with the Houses of the Oireachtas Service.”