In a series of recent investigations, the Sunday Times exposed how our elected representatives are effectively defrauding the Irish taxpayers and getting away with it.
Last week we read that Anne Ferris (Labour) claimed an extra €16,000 in travel expenses, despite not having changed address. By travel expenses, I mean the cash that TDs and Senators get paid for getting themselves to work.
I would be delighted if my employer paid me for getting to the office and indexed the payment to the distance travelled. I would relocate to Kerry or Donegal and double my salary!
So back to Anne Ferris who resides in Bray, which entitles her to an allowance of €9,000 based on the distance between Bray and Leinster House.
However this year, Anne claimed she was entitled to an additional €16,295 because her commuting distance had increased by 5km. This was due to the fact that she chose to take a longer route into town which put her into a different allowance band.
Travel distances are self-assessed by TDs and not independently audited, so the country duly coughed up the extra sixteen grand.
Yesterday we learned that Senator Katherine Zappone is pulling the same stunt. Her commute from Brittas to Leinster house is a distance of 21k, however she claims it as 25k which entitles her to an annual allowance of €20,795. That’s €15,545 more than the allowance she should receive based on the location of her place of residence.
That’s one hell of a lucrative detour!
Interestingly, Senator Zappone appeared on RTE’s home renovations show Room to Improve last year, where she and her partner renovated a rustic forest dwelling they had recently purchased. Nice to know that the taxpayer effectively footed the bill for that piece of work.