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Advisers, laundry and people kicked out: the new Dáil's first year in numbers

Just how busy has the new government been? Well, they’ve cut their own pay – but they produce less legislation.

145: The number of quangos that Fine Gael had planned to cut shortly before getting into office.
145: The number of quangos that Fine Gael had planned to cut shortly before getting into office.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IT’S BEEN 366 DAYS since the results of the general election were formally certified and the members of the 31st Dáil assembled in Leinster House to nominate their new Taoiseach.

It’s been a busy parliamentary year since then – with a few procedural reforms like Friday sittings, cutbacks in the number of Oireachtas committees, and plenty of action elsewhere in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Here, to get a sense of how life has been under the new regime, is a selection of statistics from Enda Kenny’s first year in charge.

128 – The number of days for which the new Dáil has sat in the first year since the election was held and the new government took office. That compares to 108 in the year before the last Dáil was dissolved on February 1 last year.

1,384,642 - The number of first preference votes won by the 167 people who have served as members of the 31st Dáil. That includes both Brian Lenihan, who passed away in June, and his Dublin West successor Patrick Nulty.

3,450 – The number of first preference votes won by Labour’s Kevin Humphries in Dublin South-East. He’s the TD with the fewest first preferences in the current Dáil. Compare his fate to that of Michael D’Arcy, who picked up 8,418 votes in Wexford but didn’t retain his seat. In fact, there were 119 candidates who out-polled Humphries but who didn’t get elected.

0 – The number of occasions in which all 166 TDs (or even 165, if you discount the Ceann Comhairle) have voted on any motion. Fianna Fáil abstained in the vote on electing Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, and the busiest occasions since then have been the votes on Budget resolutions, none of which had 165 votes.

€14,187 – The pay cut that Enda Kenny awarded himself on his first day in office, cutting his salary to €200,000 at his first cabinet meeting. Other ministers took a pro-rata decrease.

12 - The number of ministers who lost their automatic right to a State-provided car and driver a week into the job. Only the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice retain their cars – while the rest are given civilian drivers, they have to supply their own cars.

47,837 – The number of questions tabled for ministers to answer either orally or verbally by TDs in those 128 days. That’s an average of 356 questions for each of the 133 TDs who haven’t occupied ministerial office, and who therefore don’t submit questions themselves.

41 – The number of pieces of legislation which have been passed by the Oireachtas since the Dáil resumed. That’s actually down on the number passed by the previous government in its last 12 months of Dáil time: it managed to get 46 passed in that time.

€3,500 – The amount that ministers from outside Dublin can claim against their income tax refund for the cost of hotel accommodation and associated expenses – like having to get their laundry done in a hotel. Ministers do not even need to vouch for this expense.

7 – The number of ministerial advisers who have been given pay higher than the recommended guidelines. That includes two appointed to advise agriculture minister Simon Coveney: after his original advisor Fergal Leamy left his €130k-a-year job within five months, replacement Ross Mac Mathúna was hired at €110,000. The guideline limit is €92,672, the same wage as a TD.

€6,041,840.76 – The amount of expenses paid to members of the 31st Dáil in the 2011 calendar year, for office expenses, travel and overnight accommodation. This includes €1,538.17 paid to three TDs in respect of the last four days of February – even though their marathon count in Wicklow meant they were not actually deemed elected until the early hours of March 1.

1 – The number of TDs who opted against taking any expenses. Labour’s Eamonn Maloney said he had been on the dole before his election and that his salary was enough to cover his expenses.

23.75 – The number of hours in which the Dáil is in session during an active week – with seven hours on a Tuesday, 9.5 hours on a Wednesday and 7.25 hours on a Thursday. The Friday sittings, whenever held, add another three hours to this. There are occasional committee meetings on Mondays, or earlier on Tuesdays, which could add to this workload for some TDs.

6 – The number of sittings held on Fridays since the summer recess, when members voted to rejig the rules to allow for Friday sittings dealing with opposition legislation. They’ve been regularly panned as an expensive failure, however, with little turnout and no opportunity for other business.

6 – The number of TDs who have been kicked out of the Dáil for refusing to follow the orders of the Ceann Comhairle. The six are Richard Boyd Barrett, Éamon Ó Cuív, John Halligan, Seán Fleming, Michael McGrath and Pearse Doherty – the latter being kicked out only yesterday.

0 - The actual number of TDs who actually voted against the Bill which saw government spending cut by around €3 billion. Although all the bluster of Budget season focusses on the Finance Bill, the Social Welfare Bill and the few Budget resolutions, there’s also an Appropriations Bill which formally acknowledges that cash should be given to individual Departments for the following year. This year – as it always does – the Appropriations Bill was put through the Dáil in seconds, with no discussion or vote whatsoever. In the Seanad one member – David Norris – commented on the brief time being afforded for the bill, but it still went through in under a minute.

Read: How did the Government REALLY do in its first year? This is how.

More: From #danafacts to #cardiff: top hashtags of the 31st Dáil’s first year

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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