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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 23 September, 2014

11 things we learned from the new Registers of Members’ Interests

The new registers of members’ interests have been published. Here’s some random things we learned from reading them.

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan was gifted a Sligo Rovers cap and scarf from an anonymous donor last year.
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan was gifted a Sligo Rovers cap and scarf from an anonymous donor last year.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

THE LATEST EDITIONS of the Dáil and Seanad’s registers of members interests’ have been published.

The documents, which are a legal requirement under the Ethics in Public Office Acts, require members to list any incomes they receive other than for their jobs as politicians, companies they direct, and shares or property they hold.

The idea is that by doing so, it becomes evident whenever a member may be voting on a subject in which they have a vested personal interest. If there is a vote on, say, the recapitalisation of AIB, then we know Richard Bruton should abstain: he owns shares in that bank.

Here, in no particular order, are ten things we learned from going through this year’s documents.

  1. Before his election last year, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan was probably best known for his pro-cannabis campaign where he posted a joint to every TD (most weren’t returned). This year, he’s been on the receiving end of some random stuff of his own: the only gifts he recorded for 2011 were a Sligo Rovers hat and scarf, given by an anonymous donor. The FAI Ford Cup champions aren’t in his constituency – and they’re not even his closest club: Longford Town are much closer to Roscommon than Sligo are. (Thanks Arthur for the correction.)
    There are other footballing connections in the Dáil: Mick Wallace owns 99 per cent of Wexford Youths, the club he founded and previously managed, while Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien is a director and owns shares in the company behind Cork City FC.
  2. A couple of members were given gratuity payments from their former county councils when they gave up their seats to go to the Dáil. Both Joan Collins (Dublin City Council) and Catherine Murphy (Kildare County Council) were given gratuity payments for having to leave their councils.
  3. Both Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton were paid special salary top-ups by Labour before they joined the cabinet. Their records for 2011 show that before they joined the cabinet, they had extra allowances paid to them by Labour for their roles as Leader and Deputy Leader. Both were discontinued on March 9 when the cabinet was formed.
  4. Michael Noonan often gets some stick for his ownership of a German government bond – with people suggesting it may be inappropriate for an Irish Minister for Finance to have such a stake in the fortunes of another country. Well, it turns out Noonan sold his bond (annual yield 1.75 per cent, maturing 2020) on 11 April last, a month after taking office. Shane Ross, on the other hand, jointly owns two different German bonds with his wife – one of them, with a yield of 4 per cent, matures next Friday.
  5. Most ministers lost their automatic right to a car last year, and had to supply their own afterward. Leo Varadkar was given a helping hand choosing his: Leasplan Ireland gave him the use of a Skoda Superb free for three months while he decided whether to take out a proper lease on it.
  6. Labour’s leader in the Seanad, Ivana Bacik, a Barrister and law lecturer, tops up her Seanad income with occasional work on behalf of the Attorney General – another Labour barrister, Maire Whelan – and the Chief State Solicitors’ Office. This isn’t uncommon, it seems: former Labour senator Alex White, now a TD in Dublin South, says he only gave up his lease of an office at the Law Library in July. Another Seanad barrister, independent Rónán Mullen, is “on special leave”.
  7. Apparently you can rent land in Gort pretty cheaply. FG senator Fidelma Healy-Eames declares rent of 166 acres of land for a mere €17,000 per year – that’s a mere €102.40 per acre, per year – for the purposes of organic farming.
  8. Enda Kenny is known for being a keen golfer – and, naturally enough, has accrued a few honorary memberships of a few golf courses as a result. He’s not the most prolific life member, though: Martin McAleese is an honorary member of five golf clubs, compared to the Taoiseach’s three.
  9. She’s one of the most high-profile senators, thanks to her regular appearances on the Today with Pat Kenny show – but it seems Marie-Louise O’Donnell isn’t getting paid for her regular freelance work with RTE. It also seems that the DCU communications lecturer hasn’t been lecturing for any of 2011, or at least hasn’t been paid for it – the document (which deals with the entire 2011 year, and not just the eight months for which O’Donnell was a senator) doesn’t include any income for O’Donnell, presumably other than her Seanad wage.
  10. Feargal Quinn has by far the largest and most diverse investment portfolio of any member – the list of companies in which he has shares is a full 2.5 pages long. The Superquinn founder’s list includes no fewer than 16 companies with an address at The Oval building in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
  11. The Dáil has more than its fair share of retired teachers – but one of them, Fianna Fáil’s Leas-Ceann Comhairle Michael Kitt, isn’t getting any income from his former career despite having retired. It would appear that Kitt is waiving his teachers’ pension while he remains a TD. He also has shares in Vodafone and Irish Life & Permanent.

In full: the 2011 Dáil register of members’ interests (PDF) >

In full: the 2011 Seanad register of members’ interests (PDF) >

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