Wicklow TD claims legislation a box ticking, politically expedient, cynical pretend reform

Politicians still to get €16 million State money a year after Bill cutting allowances passed

Fine Gael and Labour will receive ¤2.2 million over the course of this Dáil for TDs who are no longer in their parties, according to Independent TD Stephen Donnelly.

Fine Gael and Labour will receive ¤2.2 million over the course of this Dáil for TDs who are no longer in their parties, according to Independent TD Stephen Donnelly.

Fri, Jan 24, 2014, 01:06


Fine Gael and Labour will receive €2.2 million over the course of this Dáil for TDs who are no longer in their parties, according to Independent TD Stephen Donnelly.

“That is easy money,” the Wicklow Deputy said.

“I would say there are many businesses out there who would like to know how they can get €2 million from the exchequer for staff whom they have had to let go. Why not fix the situation where party leaders continue to be paid handsomely for TDs who have either left or been kicked out of their parties?”

He was speaking as the Dáil debated the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Bill, which will cut the leader’s allowance by 10 per cent, introduce auditing and vouching for the allowance, and end the “golden handshake” severance payment for retiring ministers. It leaves other forms of political funding untouched.

Unambitious
Mr Donnelly described the Bill as unambitious and a “sop”.

He said “it’s like a lot of other so-called political reform, it is pretend reform because it is political expedience, it is cynical and it is box-ticking”.

The TD said he would support the legislation because it was cutting some funding but “in its lack of ambition it has failed to create a fair, transparent, cost-effective and fundamentally more democratic funding of politics in Ireland”.


Political cartel
He claimed the legislation served to protect and strengthen the existing political cartel, and he questioned why total political funding was not cut.

He said only the leader’s allowance was being reduced. Political parties had three sources of funds but two of them had been completely ignored in the Bill.

“Why is political funding not being reduced by 10 per cent? Why is exchequer funding not being reduced? Why is it only the leader’s allowance that is reduced; why is it only being reduced by 10 per cent?”

The amount parties receive is based on the number of TDs, with Fine Gael benefiting most, followed by Labour.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin defended retention of the funding for TDs expelled from parties.

The money given to the party was “reflecting the wishes of the electorate” and it “is not the individual’s and was never theirs to control or spend in that fashion”.