New rules would force TDs to ‘clock-in’

NEW Oireachtas expenses rules would see TDs “clock-in” at the Dáil using a swipe card or registration system.

The move is intended to ensure deputies actually attend parliament on the days they claim allowances for being there.

Many TDs bridled at the idea as an affront to their “dignity,” but the public record has been insisted upon as a key plank in making Oireachtas expenses regime appear more transparent and less open to abuse.

Attendance at the Dáil will then allow the Deputies to claim for travel costs and hotel expenses incurred.

However, TDs will not need to produce any receipts to prove they are telling the truth.

Under the new system, which is being considered by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, TDs will be able to claim an average of €109 per night for a hotel room when staying in Dublin in order to attend the Oireachtas.

A maximum claim of 145 hotel nights a year is to be set, despite the fact the Dáil rarely sits more than 90 days a year. This is to ensure that TDs attending committee meeting during the recess will be catered for.

Under the present scheme, members of the Oireachtas can claim for several journeys from their constituencies during the week when the Dáil or Seanad are sitting.

Critics have argued the system is open to abuse as a TD could claim five such long distance trips a week without having to provide any receipts.

The proposed reforms will see Deputies needing to vouch for expenses of up to €25,000 for their running of their constituency offices, but mileage and accommodation will remain a matter of trust without any proof being handed to House authorities to support the claims.

The “signing-in” regime already operates at the European parliament, but the system has been dogged with allegations that MEPs abuse it by leaving the building as soon as they have registered.


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