How the TD expenses system works
By Fiach Kelly and David Whelan - Tuesday August 02 2011
THE new system introduced last year splits TDs' expenses payments into two elements, the Travel and Accommodation Allowance (TAA) and the Public Representation Allowance (PRA).
To claim the TAA, TDs must verify their attendance at Leinster House by either electronically fobbing in with a tag at a number of points or by signing an attendance book.
Both methods are recorded, and attendance sheets are uploaded on the Oireachtas website each month. The TAA covers the costs of travel to and from Leinster House, accommodation where applicable, and constituency travel.
No receipts are needed to claim the TAA but TDs have to attend at least 120 days annually. For every day below 120, they have to refund 1pc of their annual total allowance. The attendance days do not have to be sitting days.
Each member is paid an allowance based on the distance from their declared normal place of residence to the Dail.
The Dublin band is for TDs who live 25km or less from Leinster House and is worth €12,000 a year.
For those living between 25km and 60km from the Dail, the allowance jumps to €28,106 a year to allow for overnight stays. The highest allowance is for those living 360km away or more and is worth €37,850 a year.
Cabinet and junior ministers do not get the TAA but are entitled to a second-home allowance so rural ministers could keep a base in the capital.
It has escaped the cuts to political expenses. It applies to houses, rented accommodation and hotels.
In 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, 11 ministers claimed €27,231 in tax breaks on second homes, €2,838 on rented accommodation and €20,894 on hotels.
These payments are in addition to the TAA.
The PRA is designed to cover the day-to-day running of a constituency office, such as gas bills, leaflets, newsletters and stationery.
TDs can choose the unvouched system and get €15,000 a year, or the fully vouched system which has a limit of €25,700. Ministers can get €12,000 unvouched and €20,000 if they produce receipts.
All these payments are on top of a politician's salary -- a TD's basic salary is around €90,000 a year.
I am utterly amazed at the unmitigated gaul of these Irish politicians continuing to shower themselves in these outrageous benefits while, on the floor of the Dail, they routinely discuss imposing even further unmerciful cuts in benefits and more tax increases for the ordinary citizens and taxpayers of Ireland. The Celtic Tiger may be long gone but the incredible level of greed that it spawned in Irish politicians is alive and well regardless of what political party is in power.
The imposition of these Draconian cuts in benefits and further tax increases leave Irish families with little choice but to suffer in silence and younger people to choose the “emigrant ship”.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America