From top: Leinster House; Ken Foxe
In The Business Post.
Rachel Lavin reported:
The details of lump sum payments and pensions made to TDs and senators leaving office will no longer be made public, an internal review by the Oireachtas has decided.
The move comes after the Information Commissioner ruled in April that the public release of the pensions paid to former taoisigh, presidents and ministers would involve a “significant breach” of their privacy.
The Oireachtas review has now extended this interpretation to outgoing TDs and senators, concluding that their right to privacy now trumps the public interest when it comes to publishing the details of their termination and pension pay, even though the money involved comes from public funds.
The decision means “hundreds of thousands of euros in termination pay will now go unscrutinised” Ken Foxe, a journalist and Freedom of Information (FOI) campaigner said.
Politicians’ golden handshakes no longer subject to FOI (Sunday Business Post, Rachel Lavin)
Previously7: Who Took This Decision?
Further to an article in The Irish Examiner on Wednesday, in which it was reported that a “small number of TDs” had “raised the question of new allowances to allow them to purchase office equipment while they work from home” during the Covid-19 restrictions…
Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne tweeted:
“Contrary to some media reports, TDs did not seek a Working from Home Allowance. I did not believe that any would. The overwhelming majority of politicians in all parties and none are genuine and certainly not in politics for financial gain.”
Related: TDs seek allowance for working from home (Irish Examiner)
Previously: Wednesday’s Papers
Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer, journalist, FOI sleuth and founder of investigative news site Noteworthy and Right To Know, Ken Foxe tweetz:
“Here’s another unusual ‘quirk’ from the ‘clock-in’ system for TDs & Senators. Even though they’ve only to record attendance for 120 days a year, they get paid for 150 overnights.”
Related: Why do TDs living a relatively short drive from work in commuter towns get €15,000-a-year in “accommodation” expenses? (Ken Foxe, 2016)
Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae
RTÉ Investigates analysed official attendance records published by the Oireachtas, together with TD voting records, to find instances where TDs signed in electronically and then failed to attend any votes.
Those who most frequently missed every vote on days when they clocked in include Independents Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae, as well as Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny, Independent TD Noel Grealish, and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his party colleague Willie O’Dea.
RTÉ Investigates found that between March 2016 and the end of July 2019, Michael Healy-Rae recorded his attendance in Leinster House for 76 days on which he missed the entire day’s votes.
In that period, there were 155 days when he signed in and a vote took place- meaning he missed 49% of the voting days for which he was recorded as present at Leinster House.
Michael Healy-Rae told RTÉ Investigates that he sometimes had meetings when votes took place. He also said that, on occasion, he would be asked to ‘pair’ – an arrangement whereby two opposing TDs agree not to vote, which generally occurs when one or both of the TDs have other commitments and can’t attend.
RTÉ Investigates – TDs, expenses and the missed votes (RTÉ)
Journalist and lecturer Ken Foxe, founder of investigative news site Noteworthy, sought details of the pensions paid to all former constitutional/ministerial/judicial office holders in 2017 and 2018.
But the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform refused to give Mr Foxe a detailed breakdown – saying the individuals’ right to privacy outweighed the public interest.
Instead, the department released the total amount paid and the number of people within each group who received pensions (see tables above for amounts paid in 2017 and 2018).
Mr Foxe is reporting that that this is the first time the State has refused to give a detailed breakdown of the pensions paid.
He’s also reporting that, up until 2016, details of how much former taoisigh, presidents, and ministers “were published as a matter of routine on the Department of Finance website” but this ended in 2017 due to GDPR rules.
Mr Foxe will be appealing the decision.
€28 million in pension payments to former TDs, Senators and government ministers over the past two years (Noteworthy)
Ken Foxe tweetz:
Information Commissioner rules that identities of TDs & Senators who refused to settle their Dáil bar and restaurant bills will forever remain unknown and that it is “personal information”…
Previously: Last Chance Saloon
Government TDs and ministers arrive at Leinster House ahead of the announcement of Budget 2017.
From top:Minister of State for Disability Issues and Independent Alliance TD Finian McGrath, Health Minister and Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, Arts Minister and Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys, Foreign Affairs Minister and Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, Sports Minister and Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross, Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Finance Minister and Fine Gael TD Michael Noonan.
The man with two phones Taoiseach Enda Kenny also arriving at Leinster House this morning.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe will present Budget 2017 from 1pm.
Nobody can stop them.
A TD or Senator has run up significant bills by making dozens of expensive calls to a single African number yet confidentiality rules prohibit the Oireachtas from finding out who is responsible.
Records released by the Oireachtas show that the Kenyan mobile was the destination number for 38 out of the 100 most expensive calls during late 2011 and 2012.
In 2013, the number of calls to the phone reduced somewhat, but it still remained responsible for 16 out of the 100 most expensive calls made that year.
Authorities at Leinster House are powerless to contact the politician’s office responsible to ask them to cut down the cost or to use a free service like Skype.
They have however, been able to contact the owner of the Kenyan mobile number but have said they are prohibited by law from finding out what TD or Senator is responsible.
Politician’s €2,000 bill in calls to one Kenyan mobile phone (RTÉ)
Part of an eye-popping haul of parliamentary expenses garnered by Ken Foxe at the RTÉ Investigations Unit.
View the full database here
Full sized version here.
Eamon Bell writes:
Something that I’ve worked on in the Summer holidays that I have before I move on to more study…
TDs That Tweet (EamonBell.com)