High claim due to not being cute, says Deasy

THE highest claiming expenses TD in the Dáil, John Deasy, has put his high claim record as being down to him “not being as cute” as his other 165 colleagues.

The Waterford Fine Gael Deputy topped the expenses league table for 2004 with a whopping €110,092, which is €40,000 more than the total claimed by constituency colleague Ollie Wilkinson (FF) and more than double the €52,337 expenses bill of Labour’s Brian O’Shea.

However, Deputy Deasy is at pains to stress that his €110,000 plus claim in fact covers both 2003 and last year, and but for that he would not be anywhere near the poll topping position he currently holds.

Of his massive total, over €48,000 relates to his expenses for two years ago which he didn’t claim within the calendar year.

“I think my problem is that I haven’t been as cute as the rest of them by spreading my expenses over a longer period of time,” Deputy Deasy said.

He is also pointing out that unlike the other TDs in the Waterford constituency, including Transport Minister Martin Cullen, he alone runs two constituency offices in Dungarvan and Tramore.

Between them, the three constituency TDs and Minister Cullen, along with Senators Brendan Kenneally (FF) and Maurice Cummins (FG), claimed a total of €345,880 in expenses in 2004.

Hugely controversial since he was elected to the Dáil the first time he tried in the 2002 general election in which he succeeded his father, the former Minister for Agriculture Austin Deasy, he has had more than one highly publicised clash with the Fine Gael leadership.

Most notorious was his defiance of the smoking ban within the corridors of power itself, with the incident ultimately cost him his high-profile frontbench portfolio as the party’s justice spokesperson.

There has, however, been an obvious closing of ranks between himself and party leader Enda Kenny since then, and it was Mr Kenny the maverick TD invited to perform the official opening of his new constituency office in Tramore last year.

Deasy retains significant loyalty among the party rank and file in Waterford, and while his relationship with some of some of his own local elected public representatives is not quite as cordial, he is regarded nonetheless as an FG banker to retain his seat in the next general election.

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