FF senator repays €3,434 in expenses after audit
Brian Ó Domhnaill previously investigated for alleged duplication of expenses claims
Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill was investigated by the Standards in Public Office Commission over travel and subsistence claims made between 2006 and 2007.
A Fianna Fáil Senator already investigated by the Standards in Public Office Commission for alleged duplication of expenses claims has now separately repaid the Oireachtas €3,434 for wrongly claimed expenses.
An annual audit report of TDs and Senators also found Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had to repay €188 for wrongly claiming expenses.
A total of five members of the Oireachtas repaid €4,992 in claims after the audit, which was carried out by Mazars.
Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill, who was investigated by the commission over travel and subsistence claims made between 2006 and 2007 when he was a county councillor, accounted for €3,434 of the total.
The repaid claims are from 2012, and a total of 12 TDs and Senators were picked at random to have their claims checked to ensure they comply with Oireachtas rules.
The Mazars audit found four TDs – Mr Martin, Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne and Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Michael Colreavy – repaid wrongly claimed expenses.
Mr Ó Domhnaill was the only member of the Upper House who had to do so, but he had to repay the largest amount.
The Mazars report said: “In our opinion the member was unable to show/receipts relevant documentation, within allowable expenditure categories for the PRA (public representational allowance) as set out in the legislation in respect of €3,434.30 claimed by him during the period under audit.
“The expenditure was ineligible as it was either not incurred in the relevant period, the expense category was not allowed for senators or was not applied wholly in respect of expenses specified in (standing orders).”
Mr Ó Domhnaill last night said the claims related to the holding of “clinics and constituency offices”. Senators are not allowed claim for such, since they are elected on vocational panels and not constituencies, as TDs are.
Mr Ó Domhnaill said there was a “lack of clarity” and said “for being productive on the ground, you are being punished”. He also claimed he would have been allowed claim expenses incurred for holding one-to-one meetings, but not clinics.
The Donegal politician also asked the High Court last month to halt an investigation by the commission in the alleged duplication of his previous expenses claims.
The action relates to an investigation concerning travel and subsistence claims made by Mr Ó Domhnaill between 2006 and 2007, when he was a member of Donegal County Council.
The commission was due to begin a public session concerning the expenses matter last June, but that did not proceed after Mr Ó Domhnaill secured leave from the High Court days earlier to bring his challenge.
The High Court is due to make a decision on the matter next month.
Following the Oireachtas audit, Ms Byrne repaid €598.97, while Mr O’Brien and Mr Colreavy repaid €332.07 and €438.71.
In each case, the Mazars report found they were “unable to show receipts/ documentation within allowable expenditure categories”.
It said the same of Mr Martin, but added “the expenditure was ineligible as it was not incurred in the relevant period to the amount of the allowance claimed as specified in (standing orders)”.
Those included in the audit whose expenses were in order were Ministers of State Alex White and Kathleen Lynch, and Fine Gael TDs Brendan Griffin, Noel Harrington and Michelle Mulherin, Fianna Fáil deputy Robert Troy and Colm Keaveney, the former Labour TD who has now joined Fianna Fáil.