Sunday, October 18, 2009

TDs Expenses Fully Justified

Mr. Micawber knew about balancing expenses

from seanie in the blind piper in caherdaniel;

There I was supping a lovely pint reading the Irish times when I came across the following article. The story is true, but some details have been amended in order to make the story more believable. (Original here.)

TDs 'face expenses challenge'

More than 166 TDs could be asked either to repay money or provide further information to justify their expenses claims, it has been reported.

TDs are set to receive letters next week about their claims over the past five years.

Auditors are expected to ask up to 166 members to justify instances where they have received public money, or to repay it, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The letters are reportedly being sent out by former civil servant Mr Shoneen, who has been leading a review of all claims since 2004. Shoneen is believed to be examining cases where TDs have used dail expenses to improve their second homes and make a profit, rather than just maintain them.

He is also said to have uncovered more examples where taxpayers' money has been used to pay off the capital element of mortgages, instead of just interest on the borrowing, as is allowed under the rules.

The letters will be sent out privately, and Shoneen is not expected to deliver his final report until December.

They will also receive an email containing a detailed analysis of their use of the Additional Costs Allowance, which is intended to help meet the costs of running a second home, the newspaper reported.

TDs will be told they have three weeks to challenge Shoneen's findings and can appeal to the Dail standards and privileges committee if they do not agree with his conclusions.

According to the BBC, the Taoiseach could be among those asked to pay back cash. In an interview, Brian Cowen said he believed the "worst offenders" in the scandal should be prosecuted.

"It's right to distinguish between what you might call corruption in some cases, which is for the courts to decide, and honest mistakes or misunderstandings about rules that are very unclear," he said.

"Some cases will end up in the courts, where someone's done something very wrong we've got a duty to deal with them most severely."

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