No suggestion of increases in salaries and expenses for members of Oireachtas next year (Letter, Irish Examiner)

Letter by Oireachtas Head of Communications Mark Mulqueen, which appeared in the Irish Examiner on 30 October 2012.

Your front page article (Oct 26) deserves some context and explanation.

First and foremost, there is absolutely no suggestion of an increase in salaries or expenses for members of the Oireachtas in 2013.

Instead, and like any other organisation’s budgeting process, the Houses of the Oireachtas 2013 estimate provides for possible expenditure relating exclusively to increased parliamentary business.

The facts behind the figures in your front page article are as follows:

  • Total estimate for 2013 is €112.03m.
  • Total estimate for 2012 was €115.6m.
  • The estimate for 2013 continues the downward trend in the Houses of the Oireachtas expenditure which was €123m in 2009, a decrease of 9%. Within this the members salaries have reduced by 11%, from €22.39m in 2009 to €19.89m in 2013. Members’ allowances have decreased by 12%, from €14.269m in 2008 to €12.5m in 2013.
  • The key differences over the 2013 estimate and the 2012 projected outturn are as follows:
  • Members’ staff has increased by €1.25m in 2013. 28.6 vacancies filled during the course of 2012 have a full year provision in 2013 and vacancies currently being carried are provided for in 2013.
  • Staff salaries have increased by €0.95m in 2013. The Oireachtas Service is currently carrying 68.3 full-time equivalent vacancies and there is provision in the 2013 estimate for filling 17.8 vacancies at a full year cost of €0.84m. Even after filling these vacancies the Houses of the Oireachtas Service will still be carrying 50 vacancies. In fact, the staff salaries spend has decreased by 11% from a peak in 2009.
  • Expenses relating to Oireachtas Committees have increased by €1.1m in 2013. The increase is mainly attributable to the costs of Ireland’s presidency of the EU in 2013. A sum of €733k has been provided in the 2013 estimate. The remaining provision of €400k has also been provided in the 2013 estimate for any exceptional and additional legal advice and outside expertise to support additional, specialist work that a committee may choose to take on.
  • Invariably there are always savings on members’ expenses as members never draw down full allowances. For example, the provision for 2012 under 5(a) & (b) and 6(a) and (b) was €12.8m, and the current projected outturn is €11.7m, which represents an underspend of €1.1m or 8.5%.

Finally, some non-financial facts. The total number of sitting days to date for 2012 for the Houses of the Oireachtas has increased by 36% over the same period in 2011. Indeed, sitting days, year to date, are the highest recorded since 2006.

The real story is that this is a busy parliament that is going about its work more efficiently year-on-year.

Mark Mulqueen

Head of Communications

Houses of the Oireachtas

Dublin 2