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Taoiseach, Noonan, Howlin among ministers claiming unvouched TDs' expenses

While the country struggles under immense financial pressure, eight cabinet ministers take expenses that can’t be audited.

Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan are among eight members of the Cabinet who claim unvouched TDs' expenses.
Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan are among eight members of the Cabinet who claim unvouched TDs' expenses.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY and seven members of his cabinet are among the 66 members of the current Dáil who do not vouch for their TDs’ parliamentary expenses.

Kenny and seven full ministers claim the vouched expenses to cover costs like improving their office accommodation, buying signage for their constituency offices, and distributing newsletters.

The unvouched expenses are not subject to audit by Oireachtas authorities, though TDs opting to allow their expenses to be vouched are entitled to claim more reimbursements under the Public Represntation Allowance (PRA) scheme.

TDs claiming unvouched expenses under the PRA system are only required to certify that the funds they receive are used for the correct purposes – but are not subject to audit unless they seek reimbursement for any spending over €12,000 a year.

This means that ministers – whose telephone and travel expenses are already covered by their government departments, and who can use prepaid Oireachtas envelopes to distribute newsletters – are beyond investigation as to how they spend the money.

The six ministers, aside from Kenny, who claim the unvouched expenses include the finance minister Michael Noonan, public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin, jobs minister Richard Bruton and social protection minister Joan Burton.

The others include communications minister Pat Rabbitte, justice and defence minister Alan Shatter, and arts minister Jimmy Deenihan.

Junior ministers

There are also six junior ministers who do not vouch for their expenses, including junior finance minister Brian Hayes, Gaeltacht minister Dinny McGinley, small business minister John Perry, innovation minister Seán Sherlock, sports minister Michael Ring, and equality minister Kathleen Lynch.

Former junior minister Willie Penrose, who quit the cabinet in November over plans to close an army barracks in his constituency, also opts to claim the unvouched expenses.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett received unvouched expenses for the time between his election in Dún Laoghaire and his appointment as Ceann Comhairle two weeks later.

TDs from the two government parties are far more likely to opt for the unvouched expenses, with 42 of the TDs elected on Fine Gael or Labour tickets opting for unvouched expenses, compared to 13 of the 53 opposition members.

Of the 13 TDs who sit on the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, only eight vouch for their expenses. The members who don’t include the committee’s vice-chairman, FG member Kieran O’Donnell, and Fianna Fáil’s public expenditure spokesman Seán Fleming.

The others are the Fine Gael pairing of John Deasy and Simon Harris, and Labour’s Michael McCarthy.

This is how much your TD claimed in expenses in 2011 >

More of our analysis of TDs’ expenses for 2011:

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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