Why do TDs & Senators get a €25-a-day unvouched “daily telephone allowance” when travelling in Europe even after the abolition of roaming charges?

NB: The spreadsheets below detail all claims made for the daily telephone allowance after roaming was abolished within the EU. Obviously, if travel involved leaving the EU, the expense involved could easily be justified depending on location of travel.

POLITICIANS are being paid a €25-per-day telephone allowance when travelling in Europe despite the abolition of roaming charges in the European Union.

The unvouched payment – known as the ‘daily telephone allowance’ – was introduced when mobile phones users could incur sky-high charges when taking calls or checking emails outside Ireland.

However, roaming charges were scrapped midway through June of last year under an EU deal.

Since then, more than €2,000 has been claimed by politicians through the daily telephone allowance by twenty different TDs and Senators.

Two of those politicians have suggested the allowance should be examined with one saying that it doesn’t really “make any sense” any more.

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone said: “Now that roaming charges are gone, people probably shouldn’t claim it. I’m not exactly up to date with how the charges work but if they’re completely gone, then the allowance should be gone.

“It’s an allowance that we get and it’s for a time when phones were more expensive. Things don’t change that quickly and you kind of get into a habit when filling out forms. You’d have incidental expenses that you didn’t put receipts in for.

“If you’re covered overall, you don’t mind,” she said. “But we do pay for so many things that we don’t get recouped for.”

Ms Noone had twice claimed €50 through the daily telephone allowance in October and December last year for trips to Liverpool and London.

Her colleague Frank Feighan said he too believed the Oireachtas should look at its continued payment.

He had claimed €325 through the allowance between September and November of last year, which covered five trips away.

He said: “I was looking at that myself – I had been tied into a contract with Vodafone for €150-a-month, which was quite expensive.

“Maybe it is time to phase it out because the new roaming came in, and it could be looked at again. That would be my point of view.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden said it was a matter for the Oireachtas to set rates after he claimed €225 in telephone expenses on trips to Brussels, Liverpool, and Tallinn.

He said: “I don’t know what the procedure is, if you are charged when people ring you, I’m not sure.

“I’ve no comment to make on [the allowance] one way or another. That’s a matter for the Oireachtas, I don’t set any of the rates, they are responsible for those.”

In a statement, the Oireachtas has said it was not up to them to set rates of expenses for politicians and was instead a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure (DPER).

“You would need to send that query to DPER as that is the Department responsible for rates and allowances,” said a spokeswoman.

However, the Department have said it is not their job either and that operation of the allowance was “a matter for the Oireachtas”.

The Department said they were only responsible for setting rates: “In 2001, there were separate rates in place to compensate for phone charges – €7.62 (£6) for the UK, €12.70 for the rest of Europe and an elsewhere rate of €17.78 (£14).

“With effect from 1 January 2001, a vouched single rate of €50.79 (£40) irrespective of the location abroad was introduced.

“In 2007, an unvouched rate of €25 per day was introduced. The vouched single rate of €50.79 remained in place.”

Thirty-two separate claims have been made for the daily telephone allowance since roaming charges were phased out on June 15 last year.

Claims ranged from just €25 for a single day of travel up to €125, with no evidence of expenditure required to back them up.

Many of the trips involved were to the UK, or other EU cities like Strasbourg, Vienna, Brussels and Paris.

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Rotten to the core, overpaid and still they are not satisfied.

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