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Oireachtas members obliged to repay expenses after audit


Seven of 12 Oireachtas members subject to a random audit of expenses were ordered to pay money back, with Fine Gael TD Derek Keating submitting a refund of more than €7,500.

Fine Gael TD Ray Butler was told to repay €4,923.69 of the €16,210.04 paid to him and said he would do so by February.

An independent auditor’s report found the seven members were unable to show sufficient receipts or relevant documentation within allowable expenditure categories relating to the public representation allowance paid to TDs and Senators.

Fine Gael TD Joe O’Reilly returned €1,400.61 of the €22,643.47 he received.

The expenditure was ineligible due to lack of evidence in the form of vouchers, receipts or bills to show that expenses were incurred in the relevant period to the amount claimed and were not applied wholly in respect of expenses specified by guidelines.

Labour TD Ciarán Lynch returned €1,316.47 of €22,527.82, while Labour Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White gave back €466.72 of €20,358.14. Fine Gael Minister of State for training and skills Ciarán Cannon repaid €308.57 of €15,105.82 and Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe €91.41 of €7,046.89.

The public representation allowance (PRA) can cover office rent, rates, utilities, insurance, improvements and cleaning. It can also cover telephone calls, computer costs including web hosting, distribution of leaflets, advertising and conference attendance.

Members can opt for the PRA to be vouched or unvouched. The minimum certified amount for unvouched expenditure is €15,000 for TDs and €9,250 for Senators. The maximum amount for vouched expenditure is €25,700 for TDs and €15,000 for Senators.

A total of 119 of the Oireachtas’s 226 TDs and Senators receive vouched allowances.

The vouched allowance is subject to audit. Members are required to retain receipts and supporting documents for inspection for five years.

Mr Keating, who returned €7,571.68 of €13,420.96, said: “As a newly-elected deputy last year I opted for the vouched expenses. My understanding was that I was in keeping with the regulations. But I fully accept the auditor’s view. I paid it back immediately.”

Mr Keating said he regularly published his expenses on his website.

Those found to be fully compliant by the auditors were: Labour Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch; Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe; Fine Gael TDs Joe Carey and Tom Barry; as well as Independent TD Catherine Murphy.

The auditing firm Mazars was appointed by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

via Oireachtas members obliged to repay expenses after audit – The Irish Times – Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

via Oireachtas members obliged to repay expenses after audit – The Irish Times – Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

No confidence


No confidence

A one act Play from the Dáil Starring Luke Ming Flanagan

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan:

When one applies for a job in the normal world, one is supposed to tell the truth about what one will do, how hard one will work, and what one’s qualifications are.

In advance of the general election in an open letter to the people of Roscommon, the person who is now Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly, said the following:

I would like to confirm that Fine Gael undertakes, in accordance with the Fine Gael Policy on Local Hospitals, to retain the Emergency, Surgical, Medical and other health services at Roscommon Hospital, which are present on the formation of the 31st Dáil. [It got even better, though.] Furthermore, in the event of the A&E being downgraded, we are committed to reinstating a 24/7 service, where feasible.

In a normal job when one tells a porky, one loses one’s job if found out. For that reason alone – there are many other reasons – the Minister should resign.

Deputy Paul Kehoe:

When is the Deputy going?

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan:

I support the motion. The motion of no confidence also presents the perfect opportunity for Deputy Feighan to show that the 9,000-plus people who voted for him at the last general election did not completely waste their time.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan:

With respect, may I have the protection of the Chair?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Charlie McConalogue):

Order, please. Let the speaker finish as he has only a few seconds left.

(Interruptions).

Acting Chairman (Deputy Charlie McConalogue):

Order, please. As the Deputy has only a few seconds remaining, I ask him to finish up.

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan:

No problem – I thank you very much.

A Deputy:

The Deputy can give it but cannot take it.

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan:   The reality is people should tell the truth when they go before the electorate.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Charlie McConalogue):

The Deputy’s time is up.

Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan:   That is very important. They should stand by the people – they pay their wages.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Charlie McConalogue):

I ask for order from both sides of the House, particularly the Government side when other speakers are speaking.

The Taoiseach:   On 9 March 2011, I nominated Dr. James Reilly as Minister for Health. I did so, not because he has decades of experience as a GP or because he developed a radical policy to create a patient-centred health system, but because he has a passionate commitment to creating a health service that puts the patient first….

Editorial comment:

I suspect we will never hear a response from Reilly to Ming’s comments and ditto from Frank Feighan.

It is likely in the next election the good people of Roscommon will give Dumb Frank the boot and justifiable so.

As for Reilly now, he has become a complete joke, professionally and personally. He is so incompetent that I am flabbergasted to hear the Taoiseach defend him openly. Kenny needs to remove this man straight away to an inactive post, as he is a liability to the Country.

The performance given by Flanagan in this one act play points to a bright future for this young man. However, at some stage he may have to make a choice between scripting and acting. Whatever the case the man is a national treasure. A person you can rely on to uplift the collective mental state of the nation.

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