Monday, 5 November 2012

Dáil ‘a joke’ as €112m spend passed

The Dáil was branded "a joke of a parliament" after a planned €112m spend next year for TDs and senators was pushed through without any debate.
As it rose for Halloween holidays, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dáil it would have a chance to debate the Oireachtas budget — an average spend of €500,000 for every TD and senator — when it returns on Nov 6.

However, as the budget was voted and passed on a Government majority yesterday, the opposition questioned the point of holding what was described by Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley as "a retrospective debate".

The estimates outline plans to spend €112m in 2013 — an increase on this year’s €108m. It will bring the average cost of keeping each TD and senator up to €495,700, compared with €479,400 this year.

The spend will include: nSalaries of €15,775,000 for 166 TDs — a slight rise from €15,753,000 last year;

* Salaries for 60 senators amounting to €4.1m — the same as 2012;

* Salaries for the State’s 12 MEPs (who earn the same as TDs) of €749,000 — up from €742,000 last year;

* Travel expenses for TDs of €3.7m — up about €55,000 from last year;

* Travel expenses of €1.3m for senators;

* Other expenses and allowances for TDs of €6.3m — up from €5.7m;

* Other expenses for senators of €1.1m — an increase of €147,000.

Independent TDs demanded a chance to debate the estimates because they include allowance and staff costs that they do not benefit from, unlike members of parties.

"These issues should be debated and scrutinised in Dáil Éireann in full public view," said Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance.

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was "almost scandalous" that the estimate was "being put through the Dáil on the nod".

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