Senators and TDs docked cash for poor attendance

Eight members of the Oireachtas were denied the full amount of one of their annual allowances last year because of their poor attendance record at Leinster House.

An analysis of expenses paid out in 2018 by the Houses of the Oireachtas reveals six TDs and a senator were paid less than the standard Travel and Accommodation Allowance (TAA) for not attending the Dáil or Seanad for the required minimum of 120 days.

The six TDs are Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Jonathan O’Brien, Solidarity’s Mick Barry, People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny, Independents4Change’s Thomas Pringle, Independent TD Michael Harty, while the senator is independent Pádraig Ó Céidigh.

Ian Marshall, who was elected to the Seanad in April 2018, also failed to achieve a reduced required attendance level of 82 days.

Refunds totalling just over €9,737 were repaid by the eight members who did not achieve their full recorded attendance.

The TAA is based on the distance travelled from their normal residence by Oireachtas members to Leinster House and ranges from €9,000 to members based in Dublin up to €34,065 for those in band 12 who live more than 360km away.

Members must repay 1pc of the allowance for each day less than the required number attended.

More than €7.6m was paid in allowances to Oireachtas members last year, including more than €4m in TAA. TDs are entitled to a vouched maximum allowance of €20,350.

The biggest amount of TAA refunded last year was almost €3,460 by Mick Barry, whose attendance was more than 11 days below the minimum.

The Cork North Central TD said he had taken the “political decision” to spend the best part of the Repeal the Eighth campaign in his own constituency to try to ensure the amendment was passed.

Mr Pringle said he missed five days in Leinster House last year because he had chosen to stay at home in Killybegs, Co Donegal, to be with his daughter while she was doing her Leaving Cert exams.

Mr Harty said he had missed four days because of difficulty in getting another doctor to work in his medical practice.

The other four politicians who did not achieve the minimum of 120 days’ attendance did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Marshall said he did not have to meet the 120-day requirement last year as he was only a senator for eight months after winning a by-election in April.

He did not respond to a request for further comment after it was pointed out that his attendance for 76 days fell short of a reduced attendance requirement of 82 days.

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