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Politicians unfit for office as lazy TDs snub gym that cost taxpayer €45k

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Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe with cyclist Ciara Doogan at the National Physical Activity Plan launch in 2016

Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe with cyclist Ciara Doogan at the National Physical Activity Plan launch in 2016

Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe with cyclist Ciara Doogan at the National Physical Activity Plan launch in 2016

Taxpayers will be hoping our newly-elected TDs make better use of the Dail gym than their predecessors.

New figures have revealed a slump in the number of politicians working out at the well-equipped facility.

TDs and Senators visited the free-to-use Oireachtas fitness room just 349 times in 2019 - the equivalent of less than one elected representative per day. The newfigures represent a sizeable decrease from both the previous year's numbers of 394, and the 390 visits made in 2017.

Just over 7pc of the total 4,786 gym sessions recorded in 2019 were by Oireachtas members.

More motivated Leinster House staff made close to 93pc of visits to the taxpayer-funded fitness centre.

Closer analysis of the data reveals that the second half of the year were the slackest for politicians, with gym-dodging elected representatives pumping iron just 99 times in the six months from July to December.

Billed

There were no visits at all recorded by Dail deputies last August, while September was the next slackest month with just 13 sessions taking place.

However, elected representatives at least appeared to have every intention to start the year on a healthy note, with the 52 gym sessions recorded in January and 59 in February the highest in 2019.

Despite the low level of interest in the facility from TDs and Senators, taxpayers were still billed almost €45,000 for running the fitness room.

The figure included payment to Dublin-based firm Inspire Ltd to provide two part-time staff at the 60msq facility and for other professional services, including twice-weekly group training sessions.

Cavan-based T&T Fitness was also paid by the Houses of the Oireachtas for the maintenance of the gym equipment.

The Kildare House-based gym is kitted out with cardiovascular equipment, including four treadmills, two cross-trainers and two exercise bikes.

The facility also has extensive resistance-training equipment, including two sets of dumbbells, two adjustable workout benches and a host of other machines.

Up to 15 gym-goers can comfortably use the well-maintained facility at any one time, with changing rooms and showers available for users.

The gym's opening hours vary from day to day, with up to four separate slots on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, up to three on Thursdays, two on Mondays and just one period of two-and-a-half hours on Fridays.