Expenses-furore TDs may have to pay back money
04/07/2012 - 19:15:40
Three TDs involved in a travel expenses furore over the use of Dáil expenses to attend anti-household charge events, could be forced to pay back the money.
The Oireachtas Service has this evening issued a statement to say its legal advice confirms TDs' allowances do not cover travel outside of their constituency.
Questions surfaced earlier this week over Socialist Party TDs Joe Higgins and Clare Daly, and People Before Profit's Joan Collins, over their use of the travel allowance to attend rallies and speaking engagements at venues other than in their own constituencies.
Joe Higgins has said he will pay back money he used to travel 900 kms, if he is found to have acted improperly.
Earlier, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin accused Deputy Clare Daly of having a "brass neck" after she quizzed him on allowances and expenses in the Dáil.
Statement from the Oireachtas Service:
Clarification on the Payment of the Parliamentary Standard Allowance
The Houses of the Oireachtas Service (the Service) has (today) Wednesday, 4th July received legal advice on the Travel and Accommodation Allowance.
The advice received reaffirms the view, as previously stated by the Service, that the specific travel aspects of this allowance are intended to support TDs in travel to and from Leinster House and their normal place of residence/constituency only.
Furthermore, for the purposes of the Act creating the Parliamentary Standard Allowance (the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Act, 2009), of which the Travel and Accommodation Allowances is a composite part, the only specific travel allowances which were reckonable for TDs were those incurred travelling to and from Leinster House and within their constituency.
Members are obliged to apply allowances received in the manner provided for in the legislation only. In the normal way, members are required to reconcile and recompense, as appropriate, at the end of year certification process.
The allowance system for Members of the Oireachtas, including the Regulations under which the allowances are payable, is currently subject to a review within the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The Joint Administration Committee of the Houses has been consulted as part of this review.
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