“Policy formulation” expenses that are made up of sizable bills from some of the best restaurants in Ireland, a special secretarial allowance that allowed a government minister quietly hire the most famous PR consultant in Ireland, overnight expenses for politicians who live in the commuter suburbs of Kildare, Wicklow, and Meath.
These are just some of the ways in which TDs and Senators in Ireland can claim expenses.
The system of payment in Leinster House seems on the face of it relatively simple … a fixed salary, travel and accommodation expenses, and a public representation allowance.
But behind that relatively simple system are myriad other ways in which expenses can be claimed, and usually an alarming lack of transparency.
We want to delve deep into this system, tell you exactly how it works, the loopholes available, and the deliberate ways in which access to the invoices and receipts that underpin these claims are kept secret.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We will be using information access laws to build a crystal clear picture of all the many ways in which TDs, Senators, and Ministers can claim expenses.
We will detail every option available to them, how it is claimed, any weaknesses in the system, and whether records are available for public inspection.
This project will give a comprehensive picture of a sometimes confusing and byzantine system of expenses and allowances.