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Former taoisigh lose mobile phone and secretarial expenses

From yesterday, former taoisigh are no longer entitled to claim expenses for secretarial work and mobile phones from the state.

Former taoisigh like Brian Cowen, pictured, are no longer entitled to claim expenses for their mobile phone bills.
Former taoisigh like Brian Cowen, pictured, are no longer entitled to claim expenses for their mobile phone bills.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

FIVE FORMER TAOISIGH will be made to cover their own costs for mobile phone usage and secretarial assistants under a new regime taking effect yesterday.

Yesterday marked the date on which the previous expenses system – where former taoisigh were entitled to seek a refund of the cost of phone expenses and hiring staff to assist them with their formal duties.

Over €1.16 million had been paid by the Department of the Taoiseach to six former heads of government since 2001, when the scheme was introduced under the tenure of Bertie Ahern.

Ahern was by far the largest claimant under the scheme, receiving almost €377,000 between his retirement as taoiseach in May 2008 and late 2011.

Albert Reynolds had received over €250,000 to pay for office assistants and incurred another €7,234 in phone expenses, while the late Garret FitzGerald had accrued €230,000 in secretarial expenses.

Brian Cowen, who was taoiseach until March of last year, had claimed €32,576 under the scheme by the beginning of October, when the government released figures relating to spending on the programme.

Charles Haughey had received almost €94,000 before his death in 2007, while John Bruton had received €166,380. Liam Cosgrave, who served between 1973 and 1977, had not claimed any expenses under the scheme.

Enda Kenny announced the withdrawal of the expenses, which formed part of the Budget for 2012, during his address to the nation last month. Former taoisigh had also lost their right to a car and Garda driver last year.

Former taoisigh remain on the Council of State for as long as they live.

Download: Payments to former taoisigh, 2001-2011 (PDF format) >

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Gavan Reilly

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