Mobile phone claims for politicians total over €37,000

TDs and Senators have claimed over €37,000 buying top of the range phones over the past two years.

Mobile phone claims for politicians total over €37,000

TDs and Senators have claimed over €37,000 buying top of the range phones over the past two years.

The claimants included Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy, who was at the centre of controversy over his Dáil attendance before he stepped down as a TD last month.

In April of last year, Mr Murphy submitted a claim for a white iPhone XR with a 128 gigabyte memory that cost €779.

Under what is known as the direct purchase scheme, he was entitled to a maximum of €750 back from the Oireachtas on the purchase which was duly paid in May.

Labour’s Joan Burton also made a claim under the scheme. Records obtained under FOI show she made a claim in November 2018 for a gold iPhone XS 64GB.

The invoice for the device was for €654.87, which included the phone itself, two Otterbox covers, and two power banks.

On the official form, Ms Burton also listed a €12.99 per month insurance cost though her claim was capped at €750 under the rules.

Sixty-six claims were made under the direct purchase scheme between January 2018 and November of last year, according to the records.

Under Oireachtas rules, each TD or Senator can claim €750 once every 18 months for a “mobile phone and car kit from a provider of their choice”.

The Oireachtas said: “The costs covered included the purchase of a handset, car kit, yearly insurance premium, maintenance and miscellaneous expenses. In order to be reimbursed, members must complete a claim form and provide supporting receipts.” Because the records cover almost two years, some TDs and Senators have been in a position to make two claims for phones.

Among those who were able to claim twice was Fine Gael’s John Deasy, who put in for €750 as part of the scheme in March 2018 and again in October 2019. Because Mr Deasy is working as special government envoy to the United States, both of his claims relate to mobiles purchased in America.

In March 2018, he submitted a claim for US$943 — capped at €750 — for a Samsung Galaxy S9 64GB and an Otterbox case. Then in October 2019, Mr Deasy submitted a claim for US€1,208, again subject to the €750 cap, for a Samsung Note 10 Plus and a protective case.

Fianna Fáil’s Pat Gallagher also made two claims during the period, the latest in June 2019 when he paid €1,179 for a iPhone XS 64GB.

He also paid €1,179 for a silver iPhone X 64GB in November 2017 with the claim processed two months later. Under the terms of the scheme, the repayment to him was a total of €1,500.

The most expensive phone purchase listed in the invoices and receipts provided by the Oireachtas was one for Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae.

His grey iPhone XS Max 256GB along with a protective screen, a cover, and a cable ended up costing €1,481.40. On the invoice a reduction of €40.65 is listed under “manager’s good will” and Mr Healy Rae was later reimbursed €750 from the Oireachtas.

Not all devices were quite so expensive with one TD, Fine Gael’s Sean Barrett showing an eye for a good deal after paying just €185.95 for an iPhone 6s in 2018.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy’s iPhone 7 cost just €169.89 while Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan’s iPhone 6s with a case, cable, and insurance cost only €162.96.

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