FF not able to claim Flynn's allowance


FIANNA FÁIL would not be able to claim a €41,000-a-year State allowance for Mayo TD Beverley Flynn, even though she rejoined the party's ranks last summer.

Under the State's funding rules, each party gets an allowance based on the number of TDs elected at the previous election.

The figure remains static during the lifetime of the Dáil, and does not change regardless of departures, resignations or death.

The Mayo TD has refused to give up the allowance, arguing that she had not received it when she was an Independent during the course of the last Dáil.

However, former Wexford-based Independent TD Liam Twomey did offer to give up the allowance to Fine Gael during negotiations with the party before he joined the party in October 2004. Responding to questions, Fine Gael said the party eventually decided that as Mr Twomey was elected as an Independent and did not have a political operation, the allowance should be spent on improving his operation.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One yesterday, Ms Flynn said she would be "open" to considering taking a cut in the allowance - which, she said, was "my entitlement" - if other TDs also accepted cuts. "It is a bit unfair in my case given that the allowance that I am getting is provided legally, and they are not laws that I brought in. That is the way that the system works out," she said.

She said she had spent the money on upgrading services in her Castlebar office and had incurred other expenses. The allowance is paid to parties and politicians monthly in arrears by the Department of Finance.

She claimed that she had been offered the vice-chair of an Oireachtas committee, which is worth €15,000 annually and is pensionable: "I turned it down so it is not that I am in the business of trying to grab money."

The legislation governing the payments appears to state they are paid out on the last Dáil election figures and cannot be changed, but some discretion appears to be allowed since it also says that payments "may" be made.