Independent senator Averil Power has claimed that her printing of 73,000 calendars using Oireachtas facilities was “precisely the point of the Oireachtas printing facility”.
The senator has defended the use of taxpayers’ money for the calendars, which are estimated to have cost in the region of €2,500.
The Herald has learned that Ms Power got 80,000 calendars for the year 2014.
As a senator she does not serve a constituency, but she confirmed that the vast majority of the calendars were distributed in Dublin Bay North, where she will run as a candidate in the General Election.
However, she denied that they could in any way be seen as a piece of propaganda.
“You can make that argument about every piece of literature,” Ms Power said.
She added that the printing office at the Oireachtas was there to allow members to communicate with the public.
“I’m more than happy to account for that,” she said.
Ms Power criticised TDs and senators who use the Oireachtas facility for printing Christmas cards, saying her calendar was a useful reference sheet.
“My personal view is that there is a world of difference. People have told me they find them [the calendars] useful,” she told the Herald.
It contains her own contact details as well as the numbers of local services.
However, on the calendar the number for Raheny Garda Station is actually the number for Raheny Post Office.
Ms Power later added that her calenders were not posted, but delivered by volunteers. The total cost for print and distribution was €2,949.
Ms Power’s order of 73,000 cards was way above that any members of the Oireachtas, with the nearest being Limerick TDs Kieran O’Donnell and Niall Collins – they both ordered 30,000 calendars.
Minister Charlie Flanagan, James Reilly, Michael Ring and Joe McHugh were among 22 members who ordered either Christmas cards or calendars in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that independent TD Michael Lowry inquired about getting 85,000 Christmas cards printed using Oireachtas facilities.
The Tipperary representative said he was told that the facility had a three-week backlog and decided to get the cards printed locally at his own expense.
The controversy over the use of printing facilities in Leinster House was sparked when Renua’s Lucinda Creighton complained that she could not get newsletters printed due to other politicians printing cards.