Alan Shatter and the cronyism row

Justice Minister Alan Shatter was quick to deny accusations that the appointment of a political donor to a €12,500-a-year post was anything to do with cronyism.

Oliver Connolly, who once gave Mr Shatter a €1,000 donation, was given the post as confidential recipient, what is effectively an outlet for garda whistleblowers.

Mr Shatter would not comment however, on whether cronyism was at play when he appointed his wife Carol as his secretarial assistant.

He also claimed in excess of €33,000 in expenses for a constituency office at his family home, an unorthodox arrangement when most politicians would set up a separate office.

The allowance for the constituency office is for rent, heat, light, rates etc, none of which would have applied for his house.

Mr Shatter had also made similar claims for a constituency office at his business premises at Ely Place, the HQ for his legal firm Gallagher Shatter. That office is not in his constituency.

The response from Fine Gael:

- Between 1997 and 2002 the Deputy did not have a Secretarial Assistant in Leinster House and his home was used as an office for constituency and political matters and for meeting constituents and local groups.  Some constituency and political work was also carried out in the law firm. The allowance claimed was in accordance with the applicable Statutory Instruments.

- Since re-election in 2007 with a new system of parliamentary supports in place and the availability to him of better office accommodation in Leinster House, the majority of constituency and political work is handled and processed from an office in the office block LH2000. Some constituency matters, political work, research and meetings with constituents are still undertaken from home.  Due to the reduction in the volume of such work at home since re-election the Deputy made no claim since re-election in 2007 for any such payment.

The documents on which this is based can be found here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/58300025/Scanned-Claim-Forms-for-Period-1997-To-Date

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