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Oireachtas costs rose to €141.5m last year as more security was needed for politicians

The Commission said that “protecting female members” of the Oireachtas is of particular importance.

THE COST OF running the houses of the Oireachtas rose by €9 million last year to  €141.5m, as the body which oversees services in the Dáil and Seanad has stressed the need to provide security for politicians, especially women. 

In its annual report, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission said that it is focusing on ensuring that politicians have security “when carrying out their work away from Leinster House”, as it states that there has been a rise in threats of violence. 

In light of this, the Commission put in place a scheme to implement “additional security measures” for members, “based on a security assessment of their constituency offices and homes” by their local Crime Prevention Officer. 

“Protecting female members of the Houses from online threats and intimidation is a particularly important consideration,” the Commission stated in its report. 

The estimated cost for the delivery of Oireachtas services and programmes for this year is now  €177,219,000. 

The Commission is responsible for determining financial and administrative policy for the delivery of  Oireachtas programmes and services. 

It pays 461 political staff working in parliament or in constituency offices. 

Its budget is set in legislation every three years following negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure. 

The current three year budget for 2022-2024 is €462m. 

The Accounting Officer for the Commission states in the report that there were a number of internal financial control issues last year, including the theft of personal property by a “staff member” in the Oireachtas. 

“The staff member in question was identified by the existing control structure and was reported to An Garda Siochana, with the case being successfully resolved in the year,” the officer said. 

The Accounting Officer also identified three contracts the Oireachtas undertook without following procurement guidelines, collectively worth €384,113. 

One, with a value of over €300,000, related to the continuation of an expired cleaning services contract, the other two related to a short term bridging contract and to spend through a public sector contract that expired without the Commission knowing. 

“All of the above contracts are being regularised,” the officer stated. 

Just over €39m of the Oireachtas costs for 2022 was spent on salaries and allowances for staff. 

Over €17m went on the salaries of Dáil members, compared to roughly €4 and a half million on the salaries of members of Seanad Éireann

Over  €18m was spent on office equipment and IT services. 

Another spending area for 2022 was planning for Oireachtas data to be moved to cloud storage services. 

The aim is to protect against cyber-attacks and data breaches. 

The commission said that this work has been undertaken in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre. 

Last year, €343,000 was paid out in legal cases brought against Departments that reached completion. 

Four of these cases were brought by Oireachtas employees, while ten were brought by members of the public. 

Nine ongoing cases brought by members of the public in 2022 were detailed in the Commission’s report, as well as six cases brought by employees, which have collectively seen €330,000 paid out in legal costs and compensation, compared to €160,000 in 2021. 

Overall, the Commission stated that there was an underspend of €19.3m in the budget for 2022, which rolls over this the budget for this year, 

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