O'Donoghue gets Dáil attendance amended


FORMER CEANN comhairle John O’Donoghue has said he will not use days he was marked present in the Dáil when he was stranded abroad by the volcanic ash crisis to claim expenses.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Kerry South applied successfully to have his Dáil attendance record amended to cover Monday, April 19th, to Thursday, April 22nd, of this year. “I will not be using any of the derogated days from my allowance for 2010,” Mr O’Donoghue said in a statement last night.

Deputies must attend Leinster House for a minimum of 100 days to get full travel and accommodation allowances, but the record may be corrected in the event of “exceptional circumstances”.

On April 30th, Mr O’Donoghue wrote to Ceann Comhairle Séamus Kirk, asking for a “reconciliation of my non-attendance” at the Dáil and explaining he had made arrangements to come back to Ireland on Monday, April 16th.

“Unfortunately I was unable to get a flight home because of the volcanic ash cloud which closed down airports across many parts of the world. I only arrived in Ireland on the 23rd day of April, 2010, owing to circumstances which were entirely beyond my control,” Mr O’Donoghue said in his letter.

Three Fine Gael TDs who were also stranded abroad made similar applications to the Ceann Comhairle, which were also granted.

“All three TDs have informed Oireachtas officials that they do not want the days for which they apply for a derogation of registration to be taken into account when their days are being settled for account at the end of the year,” a Fine Gael spokesman said.

The three were the deputy leader and Dublin North TD Dr James Reilly, Cork South West Deputy Jim O’Keeffe and Bernard Allen of Cork North Central.