Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has been asked this week to explain a mileage claim he made in July of last year.
For the month in question, Mr Quinn claimed for 5,100 kilometres (worth €1,451). Searching his official diary for the month however, shows that Mr Quinn had only a single engagement outside of Dublin, when he spoke at the MacGill summer school in Co Donegal.
On six of the days that month, he was on an official visit to Chicago while a further seven days are either specifically marked “private” or simply left blank.
Calculating all of the mileage that was apparent from the diary comes to less than 1,000 kilometres of the total, making it impossible for the public or media to identify how the other 4,100kms were incurred.
Over the course of three weeks, a number of queries were submitted to Mr Quinn’s Department, the upshot of which was that the official diary does not account for all travel.
Subsequently, in radio interviews on Newstalk and RTE this week, Mr Quinn said that some of the mileage relates to other people, including civil servants and so on, traveling on his behalf.
Here is the lengthy story that I wrote based on the documents.
The diary and expense claims for the month can be found here:
At the very least, this shows an expense system that is badly in need of reform with simply no way of retrospectively checking how the mileage was incurred.
There are few, if any, private companies (or indeed public bodies) that would simply allow readings from an odometer to count for the purposes of paying out a not insignificant amount of money. Almost all would seek a detailed list of journeys conducted, their purpose, their date and so on. And when people talk of vouched expenses, that is the type of system they mean.
Vouched expenses does not mean a TD making a claim, then holding on to a receipt, with only a 10% possibility of being audited. Nor does it mean simply entering a round figure on an expense sheet without supporting documentation.