TDs’ expenses to reflect presence in Dáil

EXPENSES paid to TDs will be linked to their attendance in the Dáil under new proposals brought in to end the gravy train enjoyed by politicians.

A commission examining how the Oireachtas can make €20 million in savings this year, presented a number of recommendations to the Department of Finance last night.

The commission said the changes will “make the system more simple and streamlined for members and more verifiable and accountable from a public perspective”.

A statement issued last night was short of detail of these changes, but said expenses will be linked to attendance and deductions will be made for absent TDs.

There was no mention of changes to the €41,000-a- year allowance paid to Independent TDs. Legislation has been promised to change this allowance after the Irish Examiner revealed earlier this month that Beverly Cooper Flynn was claiming the Independent’s allowance despite rejoining the Fianna Fáil party.

Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue, who led the commission, said: “This is a significant action. It represents a real break with tradition and is a clear demonstration of how members of the Oireachtas are not only transparent and accountable, but will now be seen to be to a greater degree.

“I am pleased that my commission colleagues have adopted this progressive and important step.”

Earlier Mr O’Donoghue, in an address to a joint sitting of both houses of the Oireachtas to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first Dáil, said that parliamentary reform is needed to address public apathy.

“If citizens are apathetic about our parliamentary democracy today, we politicians must look to ourselves and our parliamentary procedures. Too often in the past, politics, government and the Oireachtas may have been seen as somewhat remote from society, remote from the ordinary man and woman in the street, while the adversarial and confrontational style of debate can be a turn-off for some people,” he said.

“Our parliamentary system must change and is changing and is making politics and parliament more relevant, more open and more transparent.

“That is why I, as Ceann Comhairle, strongly support the efforts of our parliamentarians to reform the procedures, to make our parliament more accessible to civil society,” he told TDs, Senators, MEPs and former taoisigh at the celebration in Dublin’s Mansion House.

“I think the direction in which we are heading is the direction members of the first ever Dáil Eireann would have both envisaged and approved of,” he said.

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