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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 23, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

    Did you get a Christmas card from your local TD?

    Mary Minihan

    In a change of form, TDs tended not to send to send Christmas cards to media personnel last year. One of the perks Oireachtas members enjoy is the ability to avail of an “in-house” printing service allowing them to produce individualised cards they can send to constituents and others. 

    In January, the Oireachtas told us it spent more than €9,600 on around 200,000 customised Christmas cards that were distributed by TDs and Senators to constituents and friends ahead of the festive season. That figure did not include the cost of pre-paid Oireachtas envelopes, which Oireachtas members are entitled to use. It seemed like a small story, but a surprising number of people contacted me to express their outrage. The general tone of their emails and letters was: “Let them buy their own Christmas cards like everyone else!”

    I had to put in a Freedom of Information request (standard €15 fee) to establish which TDs and Senators availed of the perk. It turned out ten Ministers were among the 100 Oireachtas members out of the full 226 who did so. By way of an example have a look at Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan’s Christmas card.

    However, in order to release the actual images a fee of €62.85 was sought. This amount was calculated on the basis of three hours of staff time, at €20.95 an hour, to locate and draw together the records (ie put the PDFs on two discs). I thought it was a lot of money, was worried about what readers would think, and sought permission before going ahead with that part of the request.  

    Anyway, we went ahead with it and you can see some of the weird and wonderful results in our online gallery http://bit.ly/wH03K9 

    Please let me know if you got a Christmas card from your local TD and, as a certain Mr Duffy would say, “how did it make you feel?”

    • barb.ie says:

      My God…….that Phil Hogan has Baronic ideas..!

      Anyway here’s one I’ll be sending to Eamon Gilmore:

      http://rometour.org/villa-spada-irish-embassy-holy-see.html

    • Ailish says:

      LOL, you have to pay for Freedom of information plus pay the staff by the hour. That says it all Mary.

      One card looked like a campaign poster and another was from ET.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      I think I must have the record surely having received about 25 cards from various Taoiseach, past and present, Ministers and TDs and I just know they were all sent personally with genuine thanks for my hard work during the year.

      What’s more interesting is that people seem to genuinely believe that (a) the cards are signed personally (even the ones with a genuine signature are not actually signed by the person it’s meant to be from and (b) that people think when they write to a TD or Minister that the person who responds (that’s if they get a response) is the person they wrote to. I mean the idea for example that Enda Kenny is updating his Twitter or Facebook page is beyond ridiculous so it begs the question as to why all this money is spend on ‘media’ when very few of the people claiming the money are themselves capable of using the site they are claiming for…

      A year into office I think we have to conclude that nothing has changed and none of the people who hoped for better things have had their expectations met. This government is the same as the last one with a leader who isn’t intellectually capable of getting to grip with the finer points of policy and while it’s all very well thinking perhaps we need a ‘bigger picture’ leader, if he’s not capable of understanding the small print, he’s not capable of judging the success of his Ministers or of drawing together the various strands of government policy into a coherent platform.

    • Barra says:

      Undoubtedly the best one is Halligan’s. Superb.

    • Scarecrows Of The Stipe says:

      My Local TD doesnt go in for that nonsense…..

      He did however send 200 joints to TD’s and Senators in 2001 :)

    • ExtraT says:

      @ 4 Barra — u being ironic? If not why is Halligan’s superb?

    • BB says:

      @ Barra……..but how did it make you feel??????????????

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Janey Scarecrows for a half-a-second there you almost made me want to go into politics. Brrr. Don’t do that again.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      Beautiful shot of the gorgeous Gandon Custom House (of course, now that Customs duty is collected on behalf of the EU and not the State poor oul’ Customs have been kicked out of their ancient residence – did ye know it was built on swampy ground and thus the foundations were lined with sheep’s fleeces to absorb the water? No? There y’go consider yerselves a bit more educmacated – and stuffed into various dreary sixties excrescences elsewhere while Environment luxuriate in their former abode). I’ve no problem with politicians sending Christmas cards. Amazingly. It’s one of the few things I’ve no probs with politicians about. Nothing wrong with sending out good and positive feelings.

    • barb.ie says:

      PS — btw I read yesterday that Gilmore is now about to fork out €1,000,000 for the “refurbishment” of Ireland’s historic Embassy to the Holy See at Rome as it is being “made ready” for its takeover…….economic reasons HOWAREYA………Hypocrites BEGONE………………some journalist should investigate how this makes Ireland’s Roman Catholics feel……..and it would be a very brave journalist that went around the county council housing estates to ask the struggling families at the lower end of the scale with small children, especially how they feel with no Christmas bonus after all Joan Burton’s (has she gone into hiding???) exaggerated faux outrage at the previous governments cutting of this and how the sneaky stealth taxes are making it impossible for people to even feed their families……..at least in the last famine, we had our religion…………

    • Dame St. lady says:

      Anything that comes through my letter box from Eamon Gilmore’s Labour Party, I would like to eat with fava beans and a nice Chianti…….however I make do with Bachelors baked beans and a hot cup of Lyons Green Label …..


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