At the expense of the nation…

After a few days of being lambasted, Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue announced this evening that he would resign. He is now the new poster boy for the extravagance and general disregard of reason that has made this country great…at self destruction.

Over two years, he claimed over €216,000 in expenses. That’s on top of salary and other allowances. Yep, that’s the price of a three bed semi somewhere, which is probably steeped in negative equity and on the verge of repossession.

As Minister for Fun (Arts, Sports and Tourism), he clocked up a phenomenal amount of air miles at the taxpayers’ expense. His travel bill alone was more than €100,000 in flights, hotels, transport costs and subsistence as Ceann Comhairle travelling abroad with his wife. Being a very patriotic fellow, he spent €27,074 visiting five American states on St Patrick’s Day 2008 and 2009. He’s quite the globetrotter and his 14 lavish trips in the period included Australia and South Africa-each of which cost over €15,000.

He spent €13,227 on flights between his constituency in Kerry and Dublin. Are the roads not good enough for him? That’s a new family car or university fees or myriad other things that thousands of people can no longer afford.

He may be resigning but I think that’s down to pressure becase he obviously doesn’t give a flying f**k and it’s this attitude that typifies those who were in charge at FÁS and many disgraced bankers and developers. They have a blind belief in their own superiority and total disregard for everyone else. They spend other people’s money at will and live in a bubble within which the concepts of ‘shame’ and ‘humility’ just don’t exist. They deserve nothing but contempt. However, what they will invariably get is a windfall and a huge pension with other benefits.

It’s also disappointing that it took so long for someone to start demanding answers and condemning his actions. Unfortunately, I think the reason for the delay is simple. He is not alone in abusing the expenses system and a lot of people are afraid that their own expenses will be scrutinised. Memo to TDs: that €6 you claimed for foreign ATM charges is about to come back to haunt you. We built up a culture of using expenses as a quasi-wage and it’s time we knocked it on the head.

Our very own Willie O’Dea paid €46,000 over two years to Fianna Fáil representatives/activists to deliver leaflets in Limerick and Clare. The money was claimed under the Oireachtas secretarial allowance and the content of the leaflets was ‘constituency matters’. So if you got one of these leaflets in the letterbox, you paid for it and paid for one of his pals to hand deliver it. Do you think you got value for money there?

The bottom line is that they’ve all done it at one time or another because the system is asking to be abused. The only way forward is to clear the slate, assuming there is no serious abuse of expenses in any other case, and reform the whole system. Public representatives should have to publish their expenses every year and all of these bullsh*t, no questions asked ‘Oireachtas’ allowances need to be scrapped. Lack of transparency and accountability is a large part of the problem.

The gravy train is at the end of the line. Last stop, Kerry! It’s only a matter of time before Johnno claims that trip back on expenses…

One thought on “At the expense of the nation…

  1. Do you know what's worse about the flights between Dublin and Kerry? He always sent the driver to deliver the car to meet him.

    You're right about this gravy train needing to end. It's not good enough to say this happened in the good times and we're only upset now because of the recession. This was as wrong two years ago as it is now.

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