Sinn Féin TD awaits outcome of €8k claim

Oireachtas authorities have still not determined whether Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty must pay back €8,000 in travel expenses which he said was being put towards a new car.

The Oireachtas is seeking clarity from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on whether the use of money in this way is within the rules.

This is despite Sinn Féin’s claim that Mr Doherty had been reassured by the Oireachtas that he does not owe a cent back and that his use of the money was within the rules.

The party’s finance spokesman spent €24,000 of the €33,000 he received for travel and accommodation expenses last year. He repaid €845.05 to the Oireachtas commission, leaving a surplus of €8,000.

Last week, Mr Doherty admitted he had used this to hire part-time constituency workers. He said he did not know this was in breach of the rules and if it was, he would pay it back.

Now the party says he is using a €15,000 invoice for a car purchased last year to retrospectively justify the surplus expense claim.

A spokeswoman said he and fellow TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, who also admitted using the balance of his claims to pay for staff, met with Oireachtas officials on Friday to discuss the issue.

They were told “there is no issue with their use of the travel and accommodation allowance last year”, the spokeswoman said.

She insisted the party had “no policy” on how its TDs and senators used their salaries and allowances “except that before standing for election each one has agreed to take only an average wage”.

Mr Mac Lochlainn, Sinn Féin’s foreign affairs spokesman, last week said bank accounts were checked by local finance officers.

However, a spokesperson said: “Each constituency organisation operates independently, and elected representatives control their own salaries and allowances.”


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