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Averil Power defends using taxpayers' money to print 73,000 calendars

The independent senator said there’s “a world of difference” between her calendars and Christmas cards.

Updated 2.35pm

averil-power-2 Source: RollingNews.ie

AVERIL POWER HAS defended using in-house Oireachtas printing facilities to produce 73,000 calendars, insisting it’s not the same as printing Christmas cards.

The independent senator was responding to the Irish Times story which said she topped the list when it comes to the production of cards or calendars this year.

TDs and Senators are able to avail of the Oireachtas printing facilities to produce cards and other literature for their constituents.

Power said she did not know how much it cost to print her 2016 calendars but that a quote from a commercial printer indicated it would have cost her around €2,700.

She argued it would be less for the Oireachtas as there is no profit margin. Today FM’s Gavan Reilly reported that the calendars cost €1,869.

The former Fianna Fáil senator said there is “a world of difference” between her calendars and Christmas cards that TDs and Senators have printed.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, she said: “Personally, I think there’s a world of difference between somebody getting a Christmas card from a public rep that they hardly know and getting a calendar that they’re going to keep for the year on their fridge that gives the numbers for local services.”

Power said the reason for the high number of prints was that Dublin Bay North, where she is running in the general election, is one of the biggest constituencies in the country.

But she said the calendars are “nothing to do with the election”.

The calendar doesn’t say anything about the election, it doesn’t ask people to vote for me. It’s just useful local information.

Reaction to Power on Twitter has been largely negative:

Power said she had printed a calendar every year and that constituents told her they find them “very useful, very handy” and they “keep them for the whole year”.

Despite being a senator, Power said she deals with queries and issues from all over the country, but particularly in Dublin Bay North where she lives.

She said she generally prints a lot less material than other members.

Other politicians who printed

On the same programme, Children’s Minister James Reilly defended printing 500 Christmas cards through the same service.

He said he thought they were produced through Fine Gael along with leaflets he sent to members with information on the Budget and childcare. He said it was “coincidental” that the cards were printed at the same time.

Reilly insisted he buys most of his own Christmas cards and they are not produced by the Oireachtas or Fine Gael.

Information released by the Houses of the Oireachtas today shows that Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins and Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell each had 30,000 calendars printed.

Fine Gael’s Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan used the Oireachtas facilities to have 16,000 calendars printed, while his party colleague Patrick O’Donovan had 10,500 printed.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae used the same facilities to have 10,000 A4 calendars, 500 A3 calendars, and 1,200 Christmas cards printed.

Labour TD Emmet Stagg had 6,000 Christmas cards printed – the most of any TD or Senator.

Read: The mystery of the 85,000 Christmas cards and the Dáil printer

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Hugh O'Connell

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