Averil Power used Oireachtas service to print 73,000 calendars

FG TD Kieran O’Donnell and FF TD Niall Collins had 30,000 calendars each printed

Check out some of the personalised Christmas cards and calenders printed 'in-house' for members of the Oireachtas to send out to their constituents. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Independent Senator Averil Power used the Oireachtas “in-house” printing service to produce 73,000 calendars for 2016, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) show.

A perk open to all TDs and Senators is the ability to send individualised Christmas cards and other printed items to constituents. Four Ministers were among the 22 Oireachtas members who obtained personalised items.

Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan, Minister for Children James Reilly, Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring and Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Joe McHugh are expected to send the items to constituents and others over the festive season.

Ms Power, who left Fianna Fáil after the same-sex marriage referendum, said she had never ordered Christmas cards through the service.

“Many members order calendars. The reason I ordered so many is because Dublin Bay North is one of the biggest constituencies in the country,” she said. “My calendar is a simple one-sided A4 piece of card with a list of contact numbers for local services. People find it very useful. In fact, I get calls to the office every year from people looking for copies of it.”

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton complained on Tuesday she could not print a constituency newsletter because a number of Oireachtas members had “huge orders” of Christmas cards waiting to be printed which had created a backlog.

“One TD had an order for 85,000 Christmas cards . . . which has essentially blocked up the whole system for the last number of weeks,” Ms Creighton told RTÉ’s Drivetime programme.

She said she did not think it was an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

No figure of 85,000 was contained in details provided to The Irish Times following an FoI request to the Oireachtas, submitted on November 25th, for details of TDs and Senators who had availed of the printing service to produce personalised 2015 Christmas cards.

Details of those who had ordered 2016 calendars were also requested.

However, further printing orders are understood to have been received by the Oireachtas from members after the FoI request was submitted.

Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell had 30,000 A4 calendars printed, as did Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins. Mr Flanagan had 17,500 A4 calendars printed.

Politicians’ Christmas cards have caused controversy for years, although their use of the Oireachtas printing service has decreased substantially in recent times.

People living in the Dublin Central constituency complained about receiving multiple cards in prepaid Oireachtas envelopes from former taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2009.

In 2004, former senator Ivor Callely’s card featured a photograph of the then junior transport minister and his family posing at the Fry Model Railway Museum in Malahide.

Oireachtas “in-house” printing service

Senator Averil Power – 73,000 calendars

Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell – 30,000 A4 calendars

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins – 30,000 A4 calendars

Fine Gael Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan – 17,500 A4 calendars

Ind TD Michael Healy-Rae – 11,700 items (10,000 A4 calendars, 500 A3 calendars and 1,200 Christmas cards)

FG TD Patrick O’Donovan – 11,500 A4 calendars

Labour TD Emmet Stagg – 6,000 cards

Fine Gael Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring – 4,000 items (1,000 A7 calendar cards and 3,000 A7 cards)

Fianna Fail TD Seán Fleming – 4,000 A4 calendars

Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan – 3,900 items (1,500 Christmas cards and 2,400 calendars)

Former Fianna Fail and now Independent Senator Jim Walsh – 2,500 Christmas cards

Labour Senator John Kelly – 2,300 items (400 A4 calendars, 1,200 A3 calenders and 700 Christmas cards)

Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward – 2,000 A4 calendars.

Fine Gael Minister of State Joe McHugh – 1,600 Christmas cards.

Labour Senator Denis Landy – 1,500 Christmas cards.

Fine Gael TD Joe O’Reilly – 1,200 Christmas cards.

Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway – 1,000 Christmas cards.

Independent Senator David Norris – 600 Christmas cards.

Minister for Children James Reilly – 500 Christmas cards

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett – 450 Christmas cards.

Fine Gael Senator Terry Brennan – 300 Christmas cards.

Fine Gael Senator Michael Comiskey – 200 Christmas cards.