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Five Mayo TDs claimed €168k last year

Five Mayo TDs claimed €168k in expenses last year

Rowan Gallagher

MAYO TDs claimed a total of €167,949.64 in expenses in 2011, The Mayo News can reveal. On average, the five sitting TDs claimed over €600 a week of tax payers’ money on top of their salaries.
Newly elected Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin claimed the most out of all the Mayo TDs, even though she only took office in February 2011. She claimed a total of €46,133.39 last year.
From March to November 2011, Ms Mulherin claimed over €1,000 per week, which equates to over €300 more than the average weekly industrial wage in expenses alone. The average weekly industrial wage stands at €693 per week, according to the Central Statistic Office.
Deputy Mulherin is closely followed by Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Dara Calleary, who received a sum of €45,705.29 from January to November of last year.
Former Mayo TD Beverly Cooper Flynn managed to claim a total of €5,160.80 for the two months she held office last January and part of February. On top of this, Ms Flynn received €186,219 lump sum when she decided not to run for the 2011 General Election. She also receives a pension of €33,947 per year as a result of her 14 years service.
Fine Gael Deputy John O’Mahony claimed a total of €41,326 last year, consistently claiming €4,060.17 every month for ten out of 12 months last year.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring both claimed €14,811 each in expenses. However, their burden on the tax payer is expected to be much higher when ministerial expenses are taken into account.
Deputy Mulherin stated that her expenses were totally transparent and that she opted for a vouched system of expenses meaning that she supplies receipts for all expenses claimed.
“If they weren’t vouched then it would be possible to say they were excessive but I have opted for the vouched system and in that system we have to give receipts. I give receipts for all expenses I get and that is the most transparent way.
“Some other politicians use the unvouched system and that is a personal choice. As well as my expenses being vouched they can be subject to a random audit. My expenses pertain to running the constituency office etc,” Deputy Mulherin told The Mayo News.
Deputy John O’Mahony claimed that the running cost of his office and travel were the reason for the €41,000 he claimed last year.
“I have the running of my office in Claremorris and there is an allocation for that. For people who think that money just goes straight into my pocket that is wrong. We have the office and there are expenses that come with that like photocopying and this is a big county, and there are large distances, you have to be able to run a car,” Mr O’Mahony said.
Ballina TD Dara Calleary told The Mayo News that the claims were legitimate and went towards the running costs of his office and other expenses.
“I spend part of my own salary in the community and with expenses we are operating an office, we need to spend money on advertising and I have to stay two nights a week in Dublin,” Mr Calleary concluded.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny receives a salary of €200,000; Michael Ring TD earns €130,042;  the other three sitting Mayo TDs earn the basic Dáil salary of €92,672 per year.