Independent Senator David Norris has spent nearly €70,000 since 2015 on website design and online services, information from the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) show.
Sipo has released details of the amount of money spent under the parliamentary activities allowance by parties, Independent TDs and Independent Senators.
The allowance, formerly known as the party leader’s allowance, is a payment to a party leader made in relation to expenses arising from parliamentary activities, including research. Payments can also be made to Independent members of the Dáil or Seanad Éireann.
Detailed forms for 2018 show that Mr Norris received a total of €21,045 in such funding. He also had a carry-over of more than €27,000 from previous years.
He claimed €29,459 for "website, design and online" services last year. The cost in 2017 was €19,382 and €11,881 in 2016. It was €10,792 in 2015. (Read full details of the parliamentary activities allowance here).
According to his website, the last update in the “news section” was in 2017. The last entry on a blog page was September 29th, 2017. He also uploaded a 2018 newsletter.
Efforts to contact Mr Norris last night were unsuccessful.
According to Sipo guidelines, an independent member must keep records relating to any claim for six years. Sipo says it will retain every auditors’ report furnished to it for a period of six years.
Other spending in relation to the allowance by Senators includes €28,795 by Frances Black, €16,000 by Gerard Craughwell and €2,064 by Joan Freeman, who ran in the presidential campaign.
She has claimed €1,464 under the heading of “policy formation” and lists the expenditure simply as “Houses of the Oireachtas”.
Alice Mary Higgins, daughter of Michael D Higgins, claimed a total expenditure of €28,092.
The majority of this, €25,881, was spent on policy formation including €346 on a women in media conference, €134 at a gender budgeting policy meeting and €22,400 on “policy formation and research support”.