Independents get €713,885 in untaxed allowances

Mick Wallace: The only Independent not to claim

Independent TDs and senators received €713,885 in unvouched and untaxed allowances on top of their salaries last year.

Under the party leaders’ allowances scheme, Independent TDs are paid €41,152 for a full year, while Independent senators are given €23,383.

Unlike political parties, which also qualify for funding under the scheme, independent politicians do not have to publicly disclose how they spend the funds.

Independent TD Mick Wallace was the only Oireachtas member not to draw down the allowance since being elected last year.

The Wexford TD, a developer facing huge debts over his property empire, did not draw down any payments.

The Standards in Public Office (Sipo) has continually criticised the system, and this week released total amounts drawn down by elected members between Feb 2011, after the general election, and Dec 2011. A breakdown of individual amounts was given by the Department of Public Expenditure.

The funding is not subject to income tax and may not be used for electoral or referendum purposes.

In total, €505,091 was paid to non-member TDs and €208,794 to non-member senators.

Fourteen Independent TDs drew down the allowance over the 10 months, except for Wicklow’s Stephen Donnelly and Kerry’s Tom Fleming, who drew it down for six and nine months respectively.

Most of the senators drew down between seven and eight months in leaders’ allowances, except for Fiach Mac Conghaill and Martin McAleese, who drew down six months and one month respectively.

A spokeswoman for Mr McAleese said he did not claim allowances until his wife, former president Mary McAleese, left office in Nov 2011. The six weeks claimed after that were in the main returned to the State, he said.

Political parties drew down separate leaders’ allowances. These are audited, though, and the amounts given were: Fine Gael (€2.25m), Fianna Fáil (€1.46m), Labour (€1.46m), Sinn Féin (€893,432), Socialist Party (€120,902), and People Before Profit (€120,902).

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin is conducting a review of the allowance. A spokeswoman said: “The review covers all aspects of the allowance including the transparency of the system with regard to recommendations previously made by Sipo. Once the review is completed the minister will bring proposals to Government.”


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