The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has adopted a new system of allowances and expenses for TDs and Senators. According to the chairman of the commission, Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue, the new system will:
“Bring greater transparency and accountability to the way members of the Houses of the Oireachtas receive expenses and allowances.”
Two of the changes mentioned in the Irish Times report are:
A standard all-in monthly parliamentary allowance on a cost-neutral basis that would make the system more simple and streamlined for members and more verifiable and accountable from a public perspective and, for the first time, the attendance allowance paid to all politicians will be recorded and verified by party whips. Apparently, non attendance will result in non payment of the allowance.
I had a number of questions regarding this new system particularly regarding the standard all-in monthly allowance so I rang the Ceann Comhirle’s office for clarification and was promptly told that all queries must be made in writing.
I emailed my questions today.
In relation to our phone conversation of yesterday the following are my questions regarding the new system of allowances and expenses for TDs and Senators that was adopted by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and was welcomed by Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue as follows.
“I am pleased that my commission colleagues have adopted this progressive and important step.” (Irish Times, 21st Jan.).
Standard all-in monthly parliamentary allowance on a cost neutral basis.
What allowance/s does this new allowance replace?
How much is this new allowance?
Who monitors the payment of this allowance?
TDs attendance allowance.
According to the Irish Times report party whips will play a part in the verification of this payment.
What other department/person is involved in verification?
Will the public/media have access to verification records?
Publication of new system of allowances and expenses.
Is the new system of allowances and expenses available to the general public?
If so, how can the general public access the document?
If not, why not?
Rule that all questions to your office must be in writing.
Is this an official rule backed up by law/regulation or is it a local office rule?
What provisions does your office offer to citizens seeking information but who do not have access or ability to make a written submission?