TDs' pay and allowances (Letter, The Irish Times)

Letter by Oireachtas Head of Communications Mark Mulqueen to the The Irish Times on 16 October 2012.

Sir, – Contrary to what recent letters have suggested, Dublin TDs do not receive an allowance to turn up and sign on in the Dáil. Such an allowance does not exist.

However, a Parliamentary Standard Allowance (PSA) is available to all TDs.

This includes a provision for travel for TDs to fulfil both their constituency and parliamentary work. The maximum allowance available is determined by the distance each TD’s respective constituency is from Leinster House. So, TDs from west Cork, Kerry or Donegal, for example, are likely to receive more than others simply due to geography. However, Dublin TDs, like other TDs, also incur travel costs in carrying out their roles at constituency level and as parliamentarians.

Another aspect of the PSA that has been incorrectly represented in some media is the basis upon which it is paid. Despite repeated explanation, reports have wrongly implied TDs had received the allowance in August despite the Dáil not sitting in August. The PSA is an annual allowance payment of which is spread over 12 months. Each year it is provided on the basis that TDs attend the Dáil on a minimum of 120 days per annum and that they use the allowance for the purposes specified in law. If they do not comply with these two clear stipulations, they must make a refund at the end of each year – and they do. Details of those refunds are published each year and made available to the media.

Finally, your newspaper assigned the headline “TDs’ allowances review overdue” to a recent letter. A review of allowances isn’t overdue as it is already underway. Again, this is something that the media has also been advised of.

The Houses of the Oireachtas constantly explains and provides detailed information about the allowances system to the media. It also publishes details of the payment of these allowances on its website, and provides a comprehensive explanation of the purpose of the allowances on the website.

Our role with regard to the PSA is to administer it and in doing so, explain and make public how it is administered. – Yours, etc,

Mark Mulqueen,

Head of Communications,

The Houses of the Oireachtas,

Leinster House, Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.