Higgins seeking advice over expenses
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins is to seek independent legal advice after an Oireachtas oversight committee confirmed tonight that he and two other United Left Alliance TDs broke Dáil rules on travel allowances.
Mr Higgins spent almost €1,000 on petrol, train and accommodation costs in the first six months of the year, for what he described as campaign-related events outside his Dublin West constituency.
He, along with fellow Socialist Party member Clare Daly and People Before Profit TD Joan Collins, have come under fire for using expenses to drum up resistance to the controversial €100 household tax.
Mr Higgins, Ms Daly and Ms Collins all admitted to using an automatic mileage and transport payment system to recoup funds for their anti-household charge campaign.
It is understood that People Before Profit Mr Boyd-Barrett , who was also part of the anti-household charge campaign, was told not to state that his travel allowance was being used to cover the cost of attending events outside his constituency.
Dublin TDs are given travel and accommodation entitlements of €12,000 a year.
Earlier today, Mr Higgins released a detailed breakdown of his travel costs and said he would repay allowances spent in his fight against the controversial household charge if a watchdog rules he is in the wrong.
An Oireachtas oversight committee confirmed yesterday that it had never envisaged special TD travel allowances would be used for a nationwide anti-Government campaign.
Following this it took legal advice to determine whether the deputies in question broke Dáil rules in using the entitlement to fund work outside their own constituencies. The committee this evening confirmed that Dáil members can only claim expenses for travel to and from their constituencies.
It also advised that TDs might have to repay expenses if these have been incorrectly claimed.
In a statement issued this evening, Mr Higgins said he intended to seek independent legal advice on the issue of travel expenses..
He also criticised the Houses of the Oireachtas service for not acceding to his request for a meeting
before issuing its conclusions. In addition, he again challenged its interpretation of the Statutory Instrument from 2010 and maintained that travel outside the constituency was allowable under the regulations.