Politicians have clocked up more than €9m in expenses, claiming back everything from coffee to Irish language books to meals they hosted.
Transport Minister Shane Ross claimed expenses for 36 coffee mornings he attended in his constituency, which cost the exchequer between €5 and €42.50 each.
Fellow Independent Alliance member and junior minister Seán Canney submitted a list of restaurant receipts amounting to more than €3,200, which he claimed back as policy formation meetings.
Among the spending details given were a number of Dublin eateries, including €332 in Matt the Thresher seafood restaurant; €208 in Sussex Restaurant, and €140 in Bang Restaurant. Mr Canney claimed another €874 in Cre na Cille, a restaurant which appears to be in Tuam in Mr Canney’s constituency. A further €182.20 was spent at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone.
The bills were part of the €46,164 claimed by Mr Canney under the Parliamentary Activities Allowance. Another €570 was spent in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
While Mr Canney provided a detailed breakdown of receipts under the policy formation category, many other Independent TDs and senators did not do so.
Former communications minister Denis Naughten, for example, spent €7,795.25 on policy formation, while Tipperary Independent Mattie McGrath described €5,109.01 claimed as “policy formation meeting expenses”. Noel Grealish claimed €10,037.52 under the heading “policy formation”.
The allowance allows politicians to claim back money under various categories including funds spent on consultants and PR; research and training; polling or public attitude surveys as well as entertaining.
The eight main political parties also claimed funds under the allowance. The total funding payable in 2018 to the parliamentary leaders of these parties amounted to €7.587m, while Independent TDs received a total of €703,704. Funding payable to non-party members of the Seanad during 2018 amounted to €309,121.
Total reported spending during the year, by both parties and Independent members who submitted returns, amounted to €9.053m.