TDs agree to independent examination of parliament attendance and expenses after controversies

TDs agree to independent examination of parliament attendance and expenses after controversies
Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy

An independent examination of other parliament attendance and expense systems has been agreed by TDs and Oireachtas officials.

The move comes after concern about TDs fobbing into Leinster House and the current allowance systems based on their attendance.

A letter from Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy had prompted this morning's meeting of the high-powered Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

It is understood that members, including Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl, have agreed to appoint an independent official to look at how attendance is recorded and expenses set in other parliaments.

However, no action at this stage will be taken against any TDs nor will an investigation be launched into their allowance claims-despite recent public concerns about the system.

Instead, commission members stressed there was a need to ensure that the system still had the confidence of the public.

It is expected that the independent examination of other parliament attendance systems will not be finished until the New Year.

Parties and independents in Leinster House will also be asked to make their submissions on the current system.

A formal statement is expected to be released shortly on behalf of the commission.

Ms Murphy had warned in a letter to Mr Ó Fearghaíl that reports about TDs fobbing in as present while attending events outside the parliament were discrediting the system.

She had asked the commission to investigate, writing:

This brings the entire system into disrepute and has a consequence for the Dail itself and indeed each Deputy. In the interim I believe it’s essential the system is stood down and a signing in system is put in place. What also needs to occur is a significant sanction must be put in place as a deterrent. The Commission also needs to consider if a fully vouched system should be introduced.

Travel and overnight expenses also need to be overhauled, she also advised Mr Ó Fearghaíl.

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