Oireachtas staff did not decide rules on TD travel (Letter, Irish Mail on Sunday)

Letter by Oireachtas Head of Communications Mark Mulqueen, which appeared in the Irish Mail on Sunday on 13 January 2013.

I WRITE in relation to your article in last Sunday's news­ paper entitled 'Omission of single word led to costly expenses muddle; Guideline error "cleared" TDs to claim for travel all over Ireland'. Your article was wrong.

Contrary to what you reported, no 'mistake was made by the Oireachtas' when it prepared guidelines on expenses and it didn't 'accidentally' omit the word 'constituency', as you claimed.

The word 'constituency' was, in fact, omitted from the regula­ tions which determine the allowances and the Oireachtas guidelines are based on those regulations. To be clear, the regulations come from the Department of Public Expendi­ ture and Reform, not the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The wording of the guidelines simply reflects the Department of Public Expenditure regula­ tions.

So, you were incorrect to suggest that any blunder in that regard was made by any Oireach­ tas official or that the omission of the word 'constituency' from the guidelines has allowed 'TDs claim for travel outside Dublin'.

I would appreciate if you would publish this letter so as to correct this point.

Mark Mulqueen, Head of Communications, Houses of the Oireachtas, Dublin 2