Over the past few months, I’ve written a number of postsÂ about a grey area in the rules for expense claims by TDs.
To briefly explain it, TDs based between 25kms and 60kms from Leinster House are paid a very generous travel and accommodation allowance of €25,295-per-year.
In one case, a TD lives just 25.5 kilometres from the Dáil and ifÂ he lived even one kilometre closer to Leinster House – his annual entitlement would have dropped to €9,000-a-year.
This post is to explain thatÂ thisÂ system also applies to Senators.
And so, three different Senators – all of whom live a relatively normal commute from Leinster House are in receipt of large travel and accommodation allowances.
For Senators, the annual total is a little smaller, €20,795-a-year. The lower amount is to reflect the fact that they have no constituencies and therefore they are not paid for constituency travel.
The three Senators in what is known as Band 1 are Fine Gael’s James Reilly, Fine Gael’s Ray Butler, and Labour’s Ged Nash.Â Mr Reilly lives in Rush, North Dublin, Mr Butler in Trim, Co Meath, and Mr Nash in Drogheda, Co Louth.
I sent several emails to each of them asking them if they intended to keep taking the full amount. None have yet responded.
It is of course open to all TDs and Senators in Band 1 to make a refund at the end of the year of unspent money. Equally, it is open to them to take a reduced amount, as at least one has done.
It would also be open to anyÂ politician in either the Dáil or Seanad to call for reform of this ridiculous over-generous opaqueÂ unvouched systemÂ … but that is yet to happen.