FINE GAEL’S CLAIM that abolishing the Seanad would save €20 million has been contradicted by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.
Instead, the Oireachtas says that it is not possible to estimate how much would be saved with the abolition of the upper house of parliament.
In an unexpected move this evening, the Referendum Commission published correspondence between it and the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission detailing the figures.
The Referendum Commission – which is the independent body tasked with providing unbiased and independent information on referendums – said it had received a number of requests from people looking for the costs of running Seanad Éireann and how much will be saved be scrapping it. In the letter, it looked for specific details from the Oireachtas on how much could be saved.
In response, the Finance Officer of the Houses of the Oireachtas said that the total running costs of Seanad Éireann have been estimated to be €20 million per annum – but that it’s not possible to say if that will all be saved if the chamber is abolished.
The letter points out that the direct costs of running the Seanad – which mainly covers salary and sstaff costs – are €8.8 million. However it estimates that another €9.3 million is spent on indirect costs, such as IT and support sections, as well as €2 million in pension costs, making it difficult to assess exactly how much will be saved.
There have been many questions raised over the past fortnight over exactly how much it costs to run the Seanad and how much of this could be saved if the upper chamber goes as a result of the referendum on 4 October.
One of the central planks of Fine Gael’s pro-abolition campaign has been an emphasis on the €20 million which the party say will be saved, which can be spent on other projects instead.