TDS and the senators claimed 6.5 million euros in expenses last year, new figures reveal.
Forty-five TDs claimed more than €30,000 each in unjustified travel and accommodation costs, including independents Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, and Fine Gael’s Joe McHugh and Michael Creed, who were among those who claimed got the most money.
Add their office operating allowances – the Public Representation Allowance (PRA) – and 43 DT claimed over €50,000.
The top 10 claimants in this group were Holly Cairns of the Social Democrats who received €53,217.60, Danny and Michael Healy-Rae who received €53,745 and Michael Collins, the rural independent, who also walked away with €53 745 €. They all live the furthest distance from Leinster House and are therefore entitled to the highest allowances.
Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway-Walsh was also close to the top of the table with €53,065.
In addition, 21 senators received more than €25,000, including Fianna Fáil’s Eugene Murphy, who said he had been forced to sleep in his car due to the unavailability and cost of hotel rooms in Dublin. .
Mr Murphy received €25,169 in expenses in 2021.
The Parliamentary Standard Allowance (PSA) Year-End Report for 2021 lists all politicians’ expenses, which are paid in addition to their salary and, in the case of travel and accommodation allowances (TAA), are unjustified and non-taxable.
The only criterion for payment of unjustified expenses is verification of attendance at Leinster House for 120 days per year.
The travel and accommodation allowance has been controversial in the past due to its lack of guarantees. It covers travel costs to and from Leinster House and accommodation where applicable. The allowance is based on 12 installments depending on the distance from Leinster House to the member’s normal place of residence by the shortest possible route. It also includes a flat-rate housing allowance.
DTs are paid between €9,000 and €34,065 per year in travel and accommodation costs. Senators’ expenses range from €5,250 to €29,065.
TDSs who live within 25km of the Dáil receive €9,000 a year unsecured, while Dublin senators receive €5,250.
For TDs who live more than 360 km from the Dáil, €34,065 is available, while senators receive €29,065. The middle of 12 brackets used to calculate travel costs entitles a TD to €30,350 per year and a senator to €25,849.
They are entitled to monthly payments even if the Dáil and the Seanad are not in session.
The allowance does not apply to Ministers or Deputy Ministers.
Combined with the Public Performance Allowance, DTs can receive over a quarter of a million euros on top of their salary over a five-year period.
Overall, TDs claimed the bulk of the money offered, with their out-of-pocket expense bill standing at just over €5m.
The senators racked up €1,637 million in expenses, receiving €582,810 in public performance allowances and €1,055 million in travel and accommodation expenses.
Another breakdown shows that TDs spent €2.27 million to run their offices last year.
During the same period, eight members, including Senator Victor Boyhan, chose to waive all or part of their PRA.
The report also revealed that 56 members have refunded amounts to Oireachtas Service Houses totaling €162,716.29 under audit.
It also noted: “An additional total of €2,068.20 was reimbursed as travel and accommodation allowance on a voluntary basis by two members.”
The total reimbursement of the travel and accommodation allowance amounted to €19,511.23.
A quarter of TDs and Senators had to repay some claims for their public performance allowance, including former Sinn Féin TD Violet-Anne Wynne, who was awarded total expenses (TAA and PRA combined) of €48,542. It also emerged that 11 TDs and Senators did not attend the Oireachtas often enough to cover their full travel and accommodation costs.