By Gordon Deegan
It cost the tax-payer €18.58m last year to fund the salaries of all TDs and Senators in Leinster House, according to the 2017 annual report of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission published today.
The report shows that the total gross bill for all Oireachtas activities in 2017 totalled €112m.
It also shows that the cost of funding the activities of the 158 members of Dáil Eireann last year totalled €41.59m.
This was made up of €14.529m in salaries for the TDs; €19m in payments to secretarial assistance to TDs; travel and accommodation allowances of €2.93m; public representation allowances of €2.93m* and ‘other allowances’ of €2.19m.
(*same figure as travel and accommodation allowance)
In addition, the cost of funding the activities of members of the Seanad last year totalled €8.745m and this was made up of €4.055m in salaries of Senators; €2.5m in payments to secretarial assistance to senators; €1.15m in travel and accommodation allowances; €655,000 in public representation allowance and €299,000 in ‘other allowances’.
The accounts also disclose that profits at the Dáil bars and restaurants last year more than doubled to €139,047 following a profit of €64,724 in 2016.
The accounts disclose that revenues at the catering and bar services last year increased, going from €1.18m to €1.25m.
The catering and bar services incurred €736,553 in costs because of sales, resulting in a gross profit of €513,904, and expenses of €374,858 resulted in the profit of €139,047.
Staff costs funded by Oireachtas Commission for the Dáil bars and restaurants last year totalled €1.572m.
The annual report states that the Oireachtas Catering and Bar Service has in its continued programme of reform further enhanced and developed the Catering and Bar Service control environment.
This includes the House of the Oireachtas Commission approving "a new credit policy which will facilitate automatic credit/debit card or salary deductions”.
The note states that the service also recruited a new restaurant manager in April 2017 “whose job specification includes managerial functions with more direct input and support from the Service”.
The bar and catering service said that it is taking measures to address legacy contracts that were procured without going to tender.
It states that 19 legacy contracts, at a total value of €792,926, had been procured without a competitive process but extended for continuity of services and support while the competitive procurement processes were ongoing.
The note states that 11 (€529,186) have been replaced with new contracts following competitive tendering, two (€60,955) are sole suppliers and the remaining six (€202,785) are in the procurement process and expected to be concluded and in contract in 2018.
The total spent of €112.688m last year by the House of the Oireachtas Commission was a 12% underspend on the budgeted €127.43m. The budgeted spend for 2018 is €136m.
The staff costs at the House of the Oireachtas Service totalled €28.5m with the number of staff employed increasing from 498 to 546.
The accounts disclose that the Commission identified 50 individuals with payroll overpayments totalling €43,609 and a total of €28,707 recovered in 2017 with €14,902 outstanding from 13 individuals and the Commission continues to pursue recoupment of funds outstanding.
The parliamentary printing bill totalled €1.19m. Library and research services totalled €1.25m while public relations and communications costs totalled €359,000.
The cost of televising proceedings at the Dáil and Seanad and other services during the year totalled €2.97m.
The cost of funding the pension scheme for past Oireachtas members last year totalled €12.8m.