Now senators seeking €300k for new offices
Even as the fate of the Seanad hangs in the balance, senators are seeking taxpayers' money to pay for new offices in their home towns.
Just six weeks before the referendum on whether the Seanad should be abolished, senators have appealed for new State funding to open new offices in their localities.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin is considering the request, despite an outright rejection of a similar demand when the late Brian Lenihan was Finance Minister.
THE SENATORS &NDASH; MANY OF WHOM ARE EXPECTED TO RUN FOR THE DAIL &NDASH; ARGUE THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO OPEN TAXPAYER-FUNDED OFFICES IN THE DAIL CONSTITUENCIES WHERE THEY LIVE.
Mr Lenihan had responded to their original request that senators did not have constituencies in the first place. Senators are supposed to represent the interests of people from all over Ireland, he told them.
Now the request has once again been made for funds to set up individual offices for the 60 senators around the country.
The granting of new parliamentary allowances for new offices for senators has been estimated to cost a total of €300,000 in set-up costs.
Although no specific sum has been mentioned, each senator would be expected to be entitled to seek around €5,000 in new offices claims if their efforts were successful.
Up until now, it has been deemed appropriate that the State-funded offices used by the senators in Leinster House were sufficient.
But many senators hold clinics in their own regions where members of the public can meet them with requests to make representations.
Dail deputies get a €8,000 allowance for setting up their local constituency offices and senators feel they should also get State funds to open local offices of their own.
Local offices operated by TDs draw down thousands of euros a year in other expenses' claims.
The request for new allowances was made to Minister Howlin three weeks ago.