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Former FF senator given €3,100 expenses for role he couldn't fulfil

Pat Moylan was paid €3100.05 in expenses across April and May – for being the Cathaoireach of a Seanad that no longer existed.

Pat Moylan stopped being a Senator on April 25 - but got expenses for a month afterwards because he was Cathaoirleach of a non-existant Seanad.
Pat Moylan stopped being a Senator on April 25 - but got expenses for a month afterwards because he was Cathaoirleach of a non-existant Seanad.
Image: James Horan/Photocall ireland

A FIANNA FÁIL senator was paid over €3,100 in travel and office expenses last year – for a role which he couldn’t possibly fulfil.

Pat Moylan was paid €3100.05 in unvouched expenses for 30 days over April and May for his role as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad – even though the Seanad of which he was chairman no longer existed.

Polling in the most recent Seanad elections closed on April 25 – after which the previous Seanad was dissolved and members deemed to have vacated their seats. Unlike the Ceann Comhairle in the Dáil, the Seanad Cathaoirleach is not automatically re-elected.

And even though Moylan did not run to retain his seat, he was paid €3,100.05 in expenses – all of it unvouched – to cover any phone and travel expenses incurred as Cathaoirleach before he was officially replaced in that role.

This is despite the fact that Moylan would not have been in a position to perform any duties in that role, because the Seanad’s rules require it to elect his successor at its very first meeting.

The Offalyman would not even have officiated for the first few moments of the new sitting, because Seanad rules give this duty to the ‘Father of the House’, currently David Norris.

The only duties Moylan could have been asked to fulfil were those of the Presidential Commission, which signs legislation whenever the President might be abroad – but such a possibility could not arise because with the Seanad not meeting, no new legislation could be approved.

The expenses paid to him were intended to cover his travel to and from Leinster House, as well as his expenses for mobile phones, web hosting, leaflet distribution and attendance at any conferences between April 26 and May 25.

30 days with no role

It was not until May 25 that Moylan was formally replaced as Cathaoirleach, when the new Seanad finally convened – almost four weeks after the election count was completed – and elected Fine Gael’s Paddy Burke as its chairman.

No Leinster House attendance record is available for Moylan during that time, as records are not released for politicians who are no longer a member of either house.

Although Burke is entitled to receive higher expenses than other members of the Seanad because of his role as the new Cathaoirleach, he only claims the same travel expenses paid to other members.

Expenses payments to all other members of the previous Seanad stopped on April 25, when the postal vote for the current Seanad elections formally closed.

An Oireachtas spokesman declined to comment on whether Moylan had returned any of his expenses or been asked to do so, remarking only that Moylan retained the role of Cathaoirleach until his successor was chosen.

He also declined to indicate whether any record of Moylan’s travel to and from Leinster House was kept for the 30 days in question.

Because Moylan opted to claim expenses on an unvouched basis, his expenses claims are not subject to any audit.

Read: Here’s how much the Seanad received in expenses last year

More: A bluffer’s guide to the Seanad election count

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Gavan Reilly

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