Oireachtas members reimbursed travel and accommodation expenses even when off work due to illness

TDs and Senators have been paid travel and accommodation expenses for more than 1,600 days’ worth of sick leave over the past two years.

Under a strange quirk in the expenses system that applies in Leinster House, politicians can be declared present in the Dáil or Seanad even when they are not there.

The system allows TDs and Senators to “reconcile” their attendance based on a sick note from a medical practitioner.

Each day of attendance at Leinster House can yield a daily payment between €75 for TDs who live in Dublin up to €283-a-day for those who live more than 360 kilometres from parliament.

There are thirteen different “bands” in the system with payments rising according to how far the person’s home is from the capital and slightly lower rates applying for Senators and officeholders compared to TDs.

The maximum payment is only available for those who clock in for at least 120 days in every year. A deduction of 1% is made for each day below that target.

According to records released under FOI, 780 days of ill-health were reconciled last year, made up of 491 days for Senators and 289 for Deputies.

In the first eight months of this year, there were 822 days reconciled because of sickness, broken down as 275 for members of the Seanad and 547 for TDs.

An information note from the Oireachtas said: “Ill-health [has to be] certified by a medical practitioner as preventing the Member from performing their duties as a Member.

“In this case the Member must produce a medical certificate for the days not attended with an application to specify the dates for reconciliation in the application.”