Breen, O'Keeffe and Lowry claim €205.78 per day?

I’ve been doing the maths on the expenses documents Gav published last week. An interesting exercise…

As reported by the Tribune, the three biggest expense claimants over the last four years were Ned O’Keeffe of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael’s Pat Breen and the independent TD Michael Lowry, so I’ve been looking at them to begin.

Before I go any further I wish to say I’ll be getting the median claimant and doing something similar to this at a later date too, before any one tells me I’m a populist gobshite for picking the top three (I knew that already).

Messrs Breen, O’Keeffe and Lowry all claimed within €10,000 of €300,000 for the period covering 2005 to 2008, mainly for the same things, so for the purpose of this post I’ll won’t be differentiating between them. Additionally, Gavin has since received documents for 2003 and 2004 – which he’ll post when he gets a chance – so I’ll be including their details from those years here too. Therefore the following numbers could from FOI documents for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 for Pat Breen, Ned O’Keeffe and Michael Lowry. Feel free to challenge my methodology, or attempt to use your own, but I’m fairly confident in my maths (while welcoming confirmation/correction from those more qualified in the field)…

All of this is on top of the their salaries of around €100,000 per annum.

Over six years they claimed €1,319,070.49 (€1.3m) between the three of them.

In an average year they each claimed €75,110.21 (Seventy five thousand one hundred and ten euro, and twenty-one cent).

That works out at €205.78 every single day, [Annual figure divided by 365].

Which equals €1440.46 per 7 days. [Daily figure multiplied by seven]

However, I know most years the Dáil sits just 96 days per year, so that means they claimed: €782.39 per sitting day. [Total figure divided by 3 then divided by 576 – which is 96 multiplied by six]

…but I also know TDs say they do crazy hours in their constituency. If I take it that they’ve worked every day except Sundays and the 9 public holidays for all six years, the figure is €247.07 per working day. [365 minus 52 (Sundays per year) and nine (Bank holidays per year), then multiplied by six, all divided into the total expenses figure of €1.3m, then divided by three]

Finally, I’ve calculated that if on every one of those days, (six days per week for six years, without exception – no holidays, no half-days, no sick leave) they worked for 12 hours, they’d be claiming €20.59 per hour. [€247.07 divided by 12]

Note: the minimum wage is €8.65. Jobs Seekers Allowance is around €200 per week. And as stated, the above is on top of large salaries.

What do you make of that? That’s some amount of phone calls, and some serious petrol and lunch bills if you ask me.

You can view the document I used to calculate these figures here.

Two things I’d like to know: Why did Ned O’Keeffe claim €675 just last year for an ISDN line. Those lines are out-dated and useless for nothing except radio interviews… and very rarely used for those as a phone line is almost always more than sufficient. They’re slightly quicker than dail-up for browsing the internet, and far slower than an off-the-shelf broadband package, what’s he using the line for so? It certainly doesn’t sound like he used it for the interview with Newstalk I drew attention to a few weeks ago. Remember? The one where he waffled about politicians being value for money and expenses keeping corruption to a minimum… I wonder if he’d appear on morning radio to defend his expenses now? Hmmm.

Also, what do the constituency offices of these three lads look like? They spent about €52,ooo each on their constituency offices between 2003 and 2008, the offices all must be century-old manor houses in need of constant maintenance if they cost that much to keep upright, surely?

Footnote: The Sunday Tribune used the documents Gavin published here last week for their frontpage story and a double-page spread inside yesterday, taking the details to an audience larger than we could hope for here. Their report was followed up on RTÉ Radio too. I noticed BreakingNews.ie said “some newspapers” had reported the information, if you spotted them in papers other than the Trib, do let us know. In fact, if you notice what appears to be one of our stories in any media, whether we’re mentioned or not, throw us a mail [tips AT thestory DOT ie].

We’re not interested in invoicing or shaming those who don’t credit us (though we’re no fans of the latter), just in seeing how the information disseminates. Thus far we’re aware of mentions in the Sunday Times, Irish Times, Daily Mail, Sunday Tribune, Irish Examiner, and of course Gavin’s appearance on RTÉ’s Prime Time. Not bad for a project that only started seven weeks ago, but we’d like to keep track…

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