Former FF TD told to pay for using Senator's envelopes


Fianna Fáil has called on a former party TD to provide compensation for having “misused” Oireachtas pre-paid envelopes.

Tom McEllistrim, who represented Kerry North until last year, sent out notices of party meetings using envelopes he said belonged to sitting Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson.

Mr McEllistrim insisted he had done nothing wrong. The Standards in Public Office (Sipo) commission has previously ruled it was “entirely inappropriate” for TDs and Senators to pass Oireachtas envelopes to others for “personal, electoral or party political gain”.

A Fianna Fáil spokeswoman confirmed Mr McEllistrim would be receiving correspondence from the party asking him to reimburse the Oireachtas for the envelopes, normally valued at 54 cent each.

“The guidelines from Sipo on the use of Oireachtas envelopes are clear, and based on the facts available to the party this would appear to be a breach of those guidelines,” the spokeswoman said.

“The party will be writing to Mr McEllistrim to ask that the Oireachtas be immediately compensated for the envelopes that were misused,” she added.

Mr McEllistrim, who is based in Tralee, said he was acting within the rules since the envelopes were provided to him by a sitting Senator.

Mr Wilson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr McEllistrim told the Kerryman newspaper this week: “It was always done routinely, secretaries of cumainn would send out letters with envelopes compliments of a TD, for example. We don’t have a TD now and now we have to get it compliments of someone else, once it is for party purposes.”

The notice of meetings was sent to Fianna Fáil party members in Asdee, Ballybunion and Listowel.

Mr McEllistrim last year began canvassing for the next general election although the nomination process has not yet taken place.

A spokeswoman for Mr McEllistrim yesterday said he had nothing to add to the matter and had done no wrong.

A Sipo spokesman declined to comment on the case.

In the post: Oireachtas rules

The Standards in Public Office has previously said Oireachtas facilities such as free pre-paid envelopes were provided at public expense to assist TDs and Senators in the performance of their functions as public representatives.

The relevant codes of conduct require that such resources are used only for the purpose for which they are granted, the ethics watchdog has said.

Sitting TDs are entitled to 1,250 envelopes every month, while senators may avail of 750. Stamps cost 55 cents but the Oireachtas is able to avail of a 54-cent rate.

Sipo has campaigned for pre-paid envelopes to be bar-coded so they can be readily traced.

Last year it emerged that a campaign by the Oireachtas to encourage former TDs and Senators to return unused prepaid envelopes found more than 2,000 of the envelopes had been shredded by former members “unaware of the value”.

Former members who lose their seats or retire are expected to return unused envelopes.