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cost of politics

The cost of funding TDs climbed to €47.49 million last year

The accounts also disclose that sales at the Dáil bars and restaurants last year plunged by 70% from €1.4 million to €424,513.

THE COST TO the taxpayer for funding the activities of TDs at Dáil Eireann last year increased by 7% from €44.47m to €47.49m.

That is according to the 2020 annual report of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission which shows that the cost of funding the salaries alone of all TDs and Senators in Leinster House last year totalled €19.36m.

The main driver in the increase in the costs of funding the activities of TDs was €5.5m paid out in redundancy payments to 201 staff working for TDs and senators who lost their jobs after the elections held last year.

The 2020 annual report shows that total gross bill for all Oireachtas activities in 2020 amounted to €134 million.

The spend represents a 7.5% increase on the €124.6m spend for 2019.

The cost of funding Oireachtas activities increased despite the number of Dáil sittings days reducing by 20 from 102 to 82 due mainly to the failure of the Dáil not to elect a Taoiseach until 27 June last after the 8 February election.

The Seanad recorded 48 sitting days compared to 93 in 2019.

Sitting days were also impacted by Covid-19 and the number of hours of parliamentary debate declined from 2,754 to 1,743.

The report states that there was an underspend of €516,000 in pay for all members due to a delay in the preparation of a statutory instrument relating to the allowance for Office Holders and Chairpersons.

The report shows that in spite of the number of Dáil sitting days falling sharply last year, the TDs’ travel and accommodation allowance declined only marginally from €2.89m to €2.84m last year.

The €2.84m travel and accommodation bill was part of the €47.49m spend on TDs.

The report shows that €15.4m was paid out in salaries for the TDs; €24.54m in payments to secretarial assistance to TDs; public representation allowances of €2.8m and ‘other allowances’ of €1.9m.

In addition, the cost of funding the activities of members of the Seanad last year totalled €8.6m and this was made up of €3.9m in salaries of Senators; €2.96m in payments to secretarial assistance to senators; €998,000 in travel and accommodation allowances; €563,000 in public representation allowance and €241,000 in ‘other allowances’.

The accounts also disclose that sales at the Dáil bars and restaurants last year plunged by 70pc from €1.4 million to €424,513 due to the Covid-19 enforced closure of the operation for much of the year.

The Dáil bars and restaurants last year recorded a deficit of €23,623 after recording a surplus of €208,683 in 2019 – a negative swing of €232,306.

The catering and bar services incurred €325,356 in cost of sales resulting in a gross profit of €99,155 and expenses of €122,780 brought about the loss of €23,623.

Staff costs funded by Oireachtas Commission for the Dáil bars and restaurants last year totalled €1.75m.

Staff costs at the House of the Oireachtas Service increased by 5pc to €32.29m with the number of staff employed increasing from 572 to 596.

The accounts for the Commission also confirm that the Garda investigation concerning one case of alleged fraud in relation to a salary incremental claim over a period of 18 months continues.

The main driver behind the increase was €5.5 million paid out in respect of pension lump sums, severance payments and statutory redundancy to 201 staff.

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