Taoiseach to discuss allowance with Flynn

 

THE QUESTION of an extra payment of more than €40,000 to Beverley Cooper Flynn is to be taken up with the Mayo TD by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

"I'll take the matter up with her in due course, in the next week or two," he said in an interview yesterday on RTÉ Radio One's This Week programme.

The payment is an annual tax-free allowance for Independent TDs. Ms Flynn was elected as an Independent in last year's general election and later rejoined Fianna Fáil, but she has indicated that she intends keeping the allowance.

"I'll give the opportunity for Deputy Flynn to talk to me about it and we'll have a discussion about it and we'll end up with whatever is appropriate being done will be done," Mr Cowen said.

On Mayo station Midwest Radio last Friday, Ms Flynn said that she was entitled to the allowance because she was elected as an Independent TD for Mayo in 2007 and only rejoined Fianna Fáil in 2008.

All Independent TDs are entitled to the allowance because they do not have the support of a political party structure. The payment is based on the status of the TD when elected and is paid for the duration of the Dáil, regardless of whether or not the TD subsequently joins a political party.

When Ms Flynn was expelled from Fianna Fáil in 2004 after her failed RTÉ libel case, she was not entitled to the allowance because she had been elected as a Fianna Fáil party TD.

She told Midwest Radio: "Prior to the last election I was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD. I found myself outside Fianna Fáil after the first year and spent the following four years as an Independent.

"In that particular case I did not receive the Independent allowance despite the fact that I did not have the support of the party structure and had the additional expenses that all Independent deputies have."

Ms Flynn claimed that this situation placed her at a significant disadvantage compared with other Independent and party TDs.

When asked if she would be giving back the allowance now that she had the support of the party structure, Ms Flynn said that she was entitled to it.

"I will use that allowance to the best of my ability on behalf of my constituents and I believe the money is very well spent. It is certainly badly needed."

Ms Flynn said that all TDs received a similar payment. The only difference is that payments for TDs who are members of a political party are paid directly to the party rather than to TDs.

When questioned about her current status as a Fianna Fáil party member, Ms Flynn said that she was elected to this Dáil term as an Independent TD and on that basis was entitled to the payment for the duration of the current Dáil.

She said that she set up a structure within the constituency to provide the best possible service.

"So even though I find myself as a Fianna Fáil TD, and there is no doubt in the last number of months I have enjoyed additional support from within the Fianna Fáil party structure, it is also important for me as an individual to maintain the level of service that I do for my constituents and I . . . use my expenses for that."