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

The figures for Senators’ expenses for December allow us to build a full picture of the payments made to each member last year.

THE 60 MEMBERS of the Seanad were paid over €1.3 million in expenses last year, new Oireachtas figures have shown.

Data published by the Oireachtas this week, detailing how much each member was given in December, have enabled us to construct a full picture of what each member claimed last year.

Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly was paid the highest expenses, being given €32,058 to cover the costs of travel, accommodation and to run his local office – though his expenses are explained by the length of his commute to Dublin from Kenmare, Co Kerry.

Donegal-based FF senator Brian Ó Domhnaill and Connemara-based Sinn Fein member Trevor Ó Clochartaigh received €31,029 each in expenses, as did Fine Gael’s Tom Sheahan.

Fianna Fáil’s Denis O’Donovan, who is the Seanad’s Leas-Cathaoirleach, receives the fifth-highest payment, though his allowance is greater because of his official Seanad duties.

Although the Seanad’s Cathaoirleach, Paddy Burke, is entitled to higher allowances than ordinary Senators, the details show that Burke waives this extra allowance and receives only the amount to which ‘ordinary’ senators from his area receive.

‘Part-time’

At the other end of the scale, independent senator Fiach Mac Conghail claimed the least expenses of any member, receiving exactly €3,000 between his appointment as a Taoiseach’s nominee in mid-May and the end of the year.

Another Taoiseach’s nominee, Martin McAleese, received €5,117.77. The husband of former President Mary McAleese, the senator declined any wage or expenses from his Seanad appointment until November 11 when his wife’s tenure ended.

The commuting distance for the three Sinn Féin members meant they had the highest average expenses, at €29,646 each, while the geographical spread for Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour meant that those parties’ senators received an average of around €24,100 each.

The 12 non-party members received an average of €11,829 – largely thanks to the fact that the five independent members elected to the two University panels are based in Dublin and have lower limits for what they can receive.

Unlike the TDs’ expenses covered at length in the Dáil yesterday, an overwhelming majority of the members of the Seanad – which is constituted as a ‘part-time’ chamber – opt not to vouch for the expenses they receive.

This means that although they are entitled to the reimbursement of less expenses, their expenses are not subject to audit by the Oireachtas authorities.

10 of the 11 members nominated to the Seanad by Enda Kenny opt not to vouch for their expenses, with Mac Conghail the only member who vouches for the reimbursements he receives.

All the expenses come on top of each Senator’s basic annual salary of €65,621.

What you should know when reading the figures:

The total expenses for each Senator is in the furthest right-hand column of the spreadsheet. However, before you judge the individual member’s claims, there are a few important factors to bear in mind:

  • The maximum amount a Senator can claim can be affected by whether they vouch (provide receipts) for their expenses or not. In our spreadsheet, those who vouch expenses is marked with a ‘Y’. Those who claim unvouched expenses are marked with a ‘N’. Those who choose to vouch for their expenses are entitled to a higher rate of expenses.
  • The geographical distance a member lives from Leinster House will affect the amount they can claim. Those further from the Dáil can, naturally, claim more. That is why most Dublin-based members are in the lower end of expenses claims. The band number which is marked on our spreadsheet beside members’ names (eg, ‘D’ for those who state their residences are in Dublin, nos. 1-12 for the rest) show how far their residences are from the Dáil. The higher the number, the further they have to travel and the more they are entitled to claim. More data on the allowance can be found here.
  • Note: The figures released by the Oireachtas do not allow for the possibility that members may have returned some expenses which they did not actually incur. The Oireachtas intends to release “reconciled” figures, showing the extent of any refunds, in March.

In full: Our interactive spreadsheet of Senators’ expenses, from May 25 – Dec 31, 2011>

Read: Taoiseach, Noonan, Howlin among ministers claiming unvouched TDs’ expenses

More: Meet the only TD in Ireland who claims NO expenses

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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