Barcodes may stop misuse of Oireachtas envelopes

THE printing of barcodes on Oireachtas envelopes is being considered to prevent an abuse of privilege similar to the Lorcan Allen affair.

Fianna Fáil’s internal investigation into the scandal has failed to ascertain where the former TD and junior minister got the 2,000 Oireachtas prepaid envelopes he used to send out his forged letters before the local election.

Yesterday, party sources said that FF general secretary Seán Dorgan had attempted to establish which TDs or Senators had given him the envelopes, but Mr Allen had claimed they were old stock.

After being kicked out of the party for a year and removed from the Fianna Fáil national executive, Mr Allen resigned his position from a number of Wexford County Council committees for the duration of his suspension. However, he remains a fully-fledged public representative.

Aside from admitting to distributing a letter, purportedly signed by the Taoiseach, before local elections, Mr Allen has promised to repay the cost of the 2,000 Oireachtas envelopes he used.

While FF’s inquiry into Mr Allen is now closed, without party headquarters finding out where he got the envelopes, an Oireachtas watchdog committee is to investigate the widespread abuse of envelopes.

The chairman of the committee on Members Interests, Noel Davern, confirmed his committee will examine a number of complaints it received about the abuse of Oireachtas envelopes and will also look at ways to tighten the rules.

“One of the things we could look at is putting a barcode on an envelope. It would seem easy. It can be read at the office where the envelopes are given out and therefore you know who has them and who they were given to,” he said.

According to the FF TD for Tipperary South, there are no written rules about the use of envelopes.

“There was no clear definition of the use of these envelopes and I think that will have to be defined now,” he said.

Mr Davern also said that there was no way of tracing where Mr Allen’s envelopes came from. “I suppose if somebody doesn’t say who gave them to you, then you can’t find out.”

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