Joe Higgins TD responds to Houses of the Oireachtas Services Statement on TDs’ Travel Allowance
This morning I requested a meeting with the Oireachtas Commission seeking a meeting between them and the four United Left TDs based in Dublin.
In that letter it was stated that:
‘We understand that you are seeking legal advice or clarification of how Statutory Instrument 84/2010 is to be applied.
We respectfully request that you would meet us before that advice is finalised and issued as we believe that there are questions wider than merely whether the travel allowance applies to travel outside a Member’s constituency.
We believe that a much more detailed clarification is required and we would hope that you might assist us in this in the context of the advice you are seeking for the Commission.’
I regret that the Houses of the Oireachtas Services did not meet us as requested before it received its legal advice which says that TDs’ travel allowances are intended ‘to support TDs in travel to and from Leinster House and their normal place of residence/constituency only.’
I am writing to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to request a copy of the detailed legal advice they received.
I now intend to seek independent legal advice on the interpretation of Statutory Instrument 84/2010 as I believe that Section 4 (1)’s reference to a travel allowance to be used for ‘travel expenses which the member is obliged to incur in the performance of his or her duties as a member of Dáil Eireann’, clearly refers to elected representatives honouring their election mandates.
In its press statement the Houses of the Oireachtas Services says ‘Members are obliged to apply allowances received in the manner provided for in the legislation only. In the normal way, members are required to reconcile and recompense, as appropriate, at the end of year certification process.’
Should a clear body of legal opinion establish that my interpretation of Statutory Instrument 84/2010 was mistaken, I will ‘reconcile and recompense’ as required the amounts used for travelling to campaign meetings against the Government’s austerity agenda outside of Dublin West.
This morning I outlined the costs I incurred travelling to meetings around the country: January to June 2012.
Cork (by train) – €71; Castlebar Petrol – €74 ; Bed Breakfast – €35; Monaghan-NIL; Ennis (by train) – €63 – Bed Breakfast – €36; Waterford – NIL; Dundalk – €25; Navan – €17; Mullingar – €24; Naas – €11; Wicklow – €14; Tralee (by train) – €79; Carlow (train one way) – €16; Donegal – €72; Galway – €60; Limerick (by train) – €58 – Bed Breakfast – €54; Clonmel – €56; Enniscorthy – €34; Tullamore – €30; Killarney (one way) – €44; Killarney/Cork – €13; Cork/Dublin – €37; Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow – €13
Total Expense: €935.00
Total Distance travelled: 6289km/3908 miles
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