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My Own Funding

Two main sources of funding are available to me as an Independent TD, the Parliamentary Standard Allowance and the Leaders Allowance.

 

Parliamentary Standard Allowance

All TDs benefit from the support of a package called the Parliamentary Standard Allowance. This is broken down into two strands of funding:

  • Travel and Accommodation Allowance
  • Public Representation Allowance

I choose not to claim the Travel and Accommodation Allowance, as I live in Leixlip and there is no need for me to stay overnight in Dublin, nor do I have a substantial distance to travel from Kildare to the Oireachtas every day. You can read more information about the allowance at the link above.

I do claim the Public Representative Allowance. In order to be fully transparent, I opted for the vouched expenditure which is subject to audit.  There are specific rules about what the money can be spent on, which you can read here. In 2011, I was one of the 10% of TDs who were selected for independent audit for the use of this allowance, a process which found no irregularities and will be made public in late 2012. You can read the opinion of the auditor here.

The total available allowance is €25,700.

In 2011, I used €19,026.68 of this allowance. The remainder was returned to the exchequer. The money claimed was spent on:

  • Constituency Office rent, utilities, repairs, signage, equipment and furniture.
  • A Constituency Office telephone.
  • Web design, construction and maintenance, including this website.
  • Room hire for public events in the constituency.
  • Distribution of literature & newsletters to communicate with the residents of Kildare North.
  • Advertising.

The Leaders Allowance for Independent TDs

All Independent TDs receive what is called a ‘Leaders Allownce’, though the name is not accurate. This amounts to €41,152 per annum, and is unvouched. It was introduced by the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat Government in 2002 and has not been reformed since, despite many calls to do so. For detailed information on the Leaders Allowance and how it is awarded across the parties and groups, please follow this link.

I have many times stated that the allowance should be vouched, and have attempted to introduce legislation to do so. Unfortunately, SIPO is not legally empowered to extend the same scrutiny to Independent TDs as they do to Parties. Only the Government can change this, and I would welcome and support any moves to do so, and will continue to advocate for that change.

To date, I have used the Leaders Allowance to provide for the following:

  • To pay for the essential running of the Dáil Technical Group. All parties recieve extra staff to coordinate the running of Dáil speaking time, committee participation, legislative input, private member’s motions, reasearch and communications. The Technical Group does not, despite making up one third of the Opposition. In the absence of this support, instead members pool their leaders allowance to help plug this gap and hire one support staff member, provide them with equipment and other costs relating to running the Group.
  • I hire a full time staff member in my own right to assist in my work as a TD, which takes up the vast bulk of the allowance. This includes resourcing them with equipment.
  • All Revenue and Accountancy costs associated with hiring staff.
  • To pay for all staff ICT equipment to be encrypted and secured as required for working in the Oireachtas, and to pay for Oireachtas ICT support on an annual basis.
  • To pay for occasional room hire & equipment hire.
  • To commission research to help me make the best possible use of the time I get to srcutinise legislation, prepare my own legislation and participate fully in all aspects of the legislative process.
  • To seek legal advice on legislation where necessary.
  • Miscellaneous other minor expenses.