500,000 State-funded political leaflets dumped

More than 500,000 political leaflets, newsletters and calendars, printed at the state’s expense, have been binned after TDs and senators failed to collect them from the Oireachtas printing facility.

In the past two years, 48 Oireachtas members had political literature and personalised stationery printed, which was later recycled without ever leaving the publicly funded facility.

TDs and senators already receive an allowance covering the costs of running their offices, but they are also entitled to get printing jobs done by the in-house service at no cost to themselves.

About 10 staff are employed at the Oireachtas printing facility, and it costs over €1m to run each year. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 549,030 newsletters, booklets, letterheads and calendars ended up in the bin in the past two years after TDs and senators failed to collect them from the facility.

Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone accounted for 82,000 of these as part of three print jobs that she ordered in a six-week period in 2015. They were subsequently pulped by the printing service without being collected.

They included 39,000 four-page newsletters that were ordered on May 6, 2015 but were later recycled on the instructions of Ms Noone, and 38,000 two-page newsletters that were ordered 23 days later. She also placed an order for 5,000 sheets of headed paper, which were binned after they remained uncollected.

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary had the next highest number of printed items recycled without being collected. A total of 42,000 newsletters and sheets of headed paper ordered by the Mayo TD were recycled by the in-house printers.

The records, released by the Houses of the Oireachtas also reveal former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who announced his intention to retire last June, placed an order for 10,000 A4 letterheads three weeks before the end of the 31st Dáil. These were binned by the print facility.

TDs and senators are notified by the print facility as soon as an order is completed and ready for collection. Typically, if the order is not collected within three months, the print facility will seek instructions from the member whether they intend to collect the printing or if it should be recycled.

In the absence of such a response, the print facility may recycle the material to ensure adequate space remains for the storage of current print jobs.

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