TDs defend their travel expenses to West Cork

August 23rd, 2022 2:15 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

(Photo from Shutterstock

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WEST Cork TDs, who were named in a recent report as being among the very top earners of Dáil expenses, have justified their large claims.

The report named several local politicians and revealed the amounts of unvouched travel and accommodation expenses which they claimed last year.

They included:  Holly Cairns (€33,395); Michael Collins (€33,395); Michael Creed (€32,715) and Aindrias Moynihan (€32,715).

When the payment for running their offices was added to the amounts, West Cork also featured in the Top Ten with Michael Collins claiming €53,745; Holly Cairns €53,217.60; Michael Creed (€53,065); Aindrias Moynihan (€53,065) and Michael Moynihan (€52,385).

In response to queries from The Southern Star, Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said: ‘Once a TD has full Dáil attendance, (which I have), expenses are based on the distance you live from Leinster House. Those of us who have to travel the furthest, from places such as West Cork, Kerry and Donegal, are therefore in the highest band of expenses.’

Her county colleague Michael Collins (Ind) added: ‘I do not set the expenses, all I do is submit my mileage and there is a set fee per km already in place, before I was first elected to the Dáil in 2016.’

He added that he would much prefer a vouched expense system, as it would be ‘much more transparent to the public’.  He added that he also pays some of his expenses out of his wages, so a vouched expenses system would ‘be the more open way to go’.

  Deputy Collins added: ‘This total also includes payment for overnight stay in Dublin, as well as food and the running costs of my two offices in West Cork, one in Skibbereen and the other in Bandon. Obviously if I lived in Dublin, I would not have these expenses, but I am the furthest TD from Dáil Eireann, furthest from the Dáil and nearest to the White House.’ He said that any wage or expense he has received was set before every election and was open for the public to see before he faced the electorate. ‘Different to almost every other TD in Dáil Eireann I have not taken any pay increase since being elected in my term from 2016 to 2020 or from 2020 to today, as it is my stance not to take any increases during the term of the Dáil, as these increases are not agreed by the general public,’ he added.

FF TD Aindrias Moynihan (Cork North West) said: ‘Like the Donegal, Kerry and other West Cork members I live a long distance from Leinster House. The travel expenses are based on the distance and so are higher than nearer members who could walk or cycle into Leinster House from their home.’

His constituency colleague, FG TD Michael Creed repeated that the information is a ‘matter of public record’ and freely available at any time from the Houses of the Oireachtas website. ‘As you know, the travel and subsistence expenses paid to members of the Oireachtas are based on geographical location (distance from Houses of the Oireachtas) and daily attendance records. The  public representation allowance is subject to eligible expenditure and audit.’ At time of going to press, there was no response from Michael Moynihan TD (FF) in Cork North West.

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