Senator O’Domhnaill says a lack of clarity led to expenses mix-up

brianodDonegal Senator Brian O’Domhnaill has repaid the Oireachtas just under 3,500 for wrongly claimed expenses.
The Senator is already being investigated by the Standards in Public Office Commission for alleged duplication of expenses claims.
The repaid expenses are a separate matter.
A total of five members of the Oireachtas repaid €4,992 in claims after the annual audit report of TDs and Senators which was carried out by Mazars.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had to repay €188 for wrongly claiming expenses.
The other TD’s that repaid were Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne and Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Michael Colreavy.
Mr Ó Domhnaill was the only member of the Upper House who had to do so, but he had to repay the largest amount.
Senator Ó Domhnaill, who was investigated by the commission over travel and subsistence claims made between 2006 and 2007 when he was a county councillor, accounted for €3,434
The repaid claims are from 2012, and a total of 12 TDs and Senators were picked at random to have their claims checked to ensure they comply with Oireachtas rules.
Senator O’Dohmnaill has released a statement on the matter this evening to,  as he states, bring balance to the story  – the statement reads as follows:
The Vouched Public Representation allowance payments which i received from the Oireachtas for 2012 were “absolutely and entirely” for expenditure incurred in the carrying out of my duties to the best of my ability.

Since the introduction of Vouched allowance for TDs and Senators I have always opted for vouched expenses. My legitimate expenditure on constituency activities for 2012 was in excess of Eur 25,000. The Vouched allowance payment for Senators was Eur 15,000. I was advised by the houses of the Oireachtas In 2011 that expenditure which I had incurred was deemed eligible for Senators ie Constituency Offices costs etc. However, it has since been clarified as being deemed ineligible expenditure for allowance purposes for Senators. Therefore over Eur 13,000 of absolutely necessary expenditure in the fulfilling of my role has been deemed ineligible for the purposes of the Allowance. I also had incurred other eligible secretarial expenditure for the 2012 period which was an eligible allowable expense, however due to a lack of clarity I didn’t present those for claim purposes. If I had submitted those as part of my claim at the time no repayment on my part would have been due at all.

However for the purposes of clarity I decided not to query the matter and instead immediately repaid the amount of Eur 3,434. This left an overall payment of Eur 11,566 allowance for 2012. My constituency expenditure for the period was approximately Eur 25,000 which was paid for exclusively by myself. It is worth pointing out that TDs are allowed to claim for all of the constituency expenses which I had incurred however Senators cannot claim for this expenditure.

Because I am one of the only Irish Senators with a Full time constituency office my level of annual expenditure is much higher. I am happy to do this and will continue to do so in order to provide a dedicated and full time service to the people of Donegal.