First, the bad news.
An appealÂ to get accessÂ to the invoices and receipts used by TDs and Senators for claiming their expenses has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been unsuccessful.
In theirÂ internal review, the Oireachtas has upheld their original decision that these documents are “private papers” and therefore exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.
They have also pointed out that there isÂ now a “new protection” for these documents in the form of standing orders quietly introduced on the final sitting day of the Dáil last year.
These standing orders were adopted on December 17 and printed on 28 January 2016, just a week before dissolution and the start of the general election campaign.
The Oireachtas believe this offers another means to keep theÂ documents from public view.
AndÂ they have said thatÂ even if the original decision on the release of these expense documents were to be reconsidered (read the background here) … this “new protection” would now also have to be considered.
The new standing order states that “private papers” are all documents for which a TD or Senator has a “reasonable expectation of privacy”.Â And that it includes documents prepared for the purposes of “transacting any business of the Dáil or any Committee of the Dáil”.
The good news.
There are still two more avenues for appeal, first to the Information Commissioner, and failing that, to the High Court.
You can read the internal review decision letter here (redactions are mine). Please do make contact if you have any strong views on areas of appeal.
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