LEINSTER HOUSE OFFICIALS have confirmed that Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty is not in breach of any rules regarding the use of his parliamentary allowances – because his travel costs were high enough to merit the full costs.
Doherty had been accused of breaching the Oireachtas’s rules regarding the use of his personal allowances last year – after the Donegal South-West TD said he used about €8,000 of his allowances to hire staff at his office.
But authorities have Leinster House have told him that he is not in breach of any rules, because the travel allowances paid for him would actually cover the full cost of his mileage between Dublin and Donegal – meaning it’s not possible for any of the cash to be left over in the first place.
Correspondence between the Oireachtas and Doherty – which the TD has published this afternoon – affirm that Doherty’s 45,000+ miles of travel for 2011 would almost double the amount he was actually paid.
Doherty actually received €11,273.67 in travel expenses for 2011 – but the expenses model used to calculate members’ entitlements means the 45,000 miles he logged would actually mean, if expenses were not capped, he would have been entitled to over double that amount: €22,575.
“The mileage that I incurred in 2011 was in excess of 45,000 miles which, if applied to the rate that underpins the [travel and accommodatino allowance] scheme, would be in excess of the portion… which relates to travel that was paid to me”, Doherty said this afternoon.
I have provided all of this information to the Oireachtas officials and they have confirmed to me in writing today that I haven’t breached any regulations and have stated to me that ‘the regulations have been complied with’.
The confirmation that his travel and accommodation costs outstripped the actual amounts Doherty received means that the money he uses to hire extra staff is considered to be part of his Oireachtas salary – which Doherty is entitled to use however he sees fit.
The Donegal South-West TD says he is a registered employer with the Revenue Commissioners, with his employees enjoying the usual statutory retirements.
This afternoon Doherty said he believed all allowances should be fully vouched, and called on the government to introduce such a scheme.