herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Now that's weird, TD's UFO Christmas cards that you had to pay for

IT was a Christmas card from out of this world -- but of course mere mortal taxpayers still ended up paying for it.

This quirky festive artistry would certainly have stood out on the mantelpiece but its cost will be less welcome.

TDs and senators spent more than €10,000 of taxpayers' money on Christmas cards.

But the Oireachtas could not provide a detailed breakdown to show which TDs or senators had the most cards printed off.

However, Waterford Independent TD John Halligan has admitted that he sent out a total of 800 cards in Oireachtas envelopes which come free of charge to TDs and senators.

A spokeswoman for the Houses of the Oireachtas has confirmed that the in-house printing facility was used by 132 politicians.

In total, 217,020 cards were printed by the Oireachtas for TDs and senators to use. A spokeswoman said this worked out at 0.044c for each one.

The total bill of €9,622 was made up of €7,166 in paper costs, €2,376 in printing plate costs and €80 on printer ink.

Festive

"We have no way of knowing whether these cards were posted or not and if they were posted, whether Oireachtas envelopes were used or not," admitted a spokesman.

While many TDs opted to send festive pictures from their constituency or pictures of Leinster House, Mr Halligan went for something a bit different.

He said that as an atheist he decided to use an alien themed card -- complete with ET references and spaceships.

Other atheists in the Dail include Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, although the Department of Foreign Affairs could not say last night if Mr Gilmore had sent Christmas cards.

"I've kept up the reputation of sending an oddball Christmas card to people at Christmas time," Mr Halligan told RTE Radio's John Murray Show.

"They go down quite well." Mr Halligan was first elected in last February's general election, and said he footed his own Christmas card bill before that.

"You can get cards printed in the Dail," the former Waterford Mayor added. "For the last five years I've paid for them myself, I've paid for taking down the images and so on.

"These ones are printed in the Dail as every TD can have them printed in the Dail. I'm going to be honest about that, but the last five or six years they're all paid for myself. The Christmas cards are printed for you if you wish."

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