Friday, February 3, 2012

Independent TDs and senators pocket over €1 million in tax-free allowances in ten months

By the end of 2011 the General Government Debt in Ireland was equivalent to 107% of GDP and is forecast to reach 115% of GDP this year. General Government Debt was just €47.4 billion in 2007 (24.9% of GDP).

Despite this trend and cutbacks across the spectrum of public spending the annual tax-free allowances paid to Irish parliamentary leaders of ‘qualifying parties’ has increased by 10.3% since 2007 to €8,410,899.

The ostensible purpose of a parliamentary leader's allowance is rather broad and includes administation of parliamentary activities, research and training, entertainment, the payment of an honorarium to the parliamentary leader in respect of duties arising from his, or her activities as a leader (of a one-man-band), as distinct from those of a member of Dáil or Seanad Éireann and the provision of transport for the leader and the recoupment of expenses.

The outcome of the 2010 general election has meant that there has been substantial change in who gets what. The amount paid to the Leader of Fianna Fáil has reduced by €1,056,437 per annum since 2007 while the disappearance of The Green Party and the Progressive Democrats has ‘saved the State’ €655,306.

But Fine Gael are pocketing an extra €243,025; the Labour Party has an extra €390,132 and Sinn Féin is being paid an extra €787,033 while the Socialist Party has scooped an extra €143,040.

The really big change, which accounts for the bulk of the additional overall expenditure goes to Independent TDs who reaped a total of €897,876 last year and People Before Profit who are now paid €143,040 – a combined total of €1,040,916 to 'new boys' since 26 February 2011. The only Independent TDs who was not personally paid an additional €34,783.20 was Mick Wallace, Denis Naughten,

Independent senators pocketed a total in €169,180 last year, although true to his word, Senator Martin McAleese was not paid this allowance when his wife was President.

The Independent TDs have almost been as politically incoherent as Fine Gael backbenchers – the posse whose preferred candidate that captured 6% in the presidential elections. Their iconic contribution to the political enterprise has been to organise a campaign to subvert the legislation governing the Household Charge and to waffle about a Constitutional referendum in connection with the already signed treaty that underpins the fiscal compact.

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