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Taxpayer shells out €17k over past year to buy new phones for TDs and Senators

Kerry Independent Michael Healy-Rae splashed out €1,250 on new kit including an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, which cost €1,000 before tax.

File photo of Deputy Michael Healy-Rae

Ken FoxeIndependent.ie

The taxpayer has paid out around €17,000 over the past year to buy new phones for TDs and Senators.

Under Oireachtas rules, politicians can claim back €750 every eighteen months under what is known as the direct purchase scheme for the purchase of phones, kit, and insurance.

Fourteen TDs and twelve Senators used the scheme since the beginning of June last year, with a majority opting to take advantage of the full €750 allowance.

Kerry Independent Michael Healy-Rae splashed out €1,250 on new kit including an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, which cost €1,000 before tax.

He also bought two screen protectors and a case for around €60 but was given a €44.72 discount as “managers goodwill” according to an invoice he submitted.

The total bill came to €1,250 after VAT was included but Mr Healy-Rae’s claim back from the Oireachtas would have been capped at a maximum of €750.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness paid out €1,299 for his new mobile – an iPhone 12 Pro with 256 MB of memory, invoices show.

That receipt also included a €29.95 spent on a phone screen but the claim was for a max of €750 under the rules of the direct purchase scheme.

Other TDs who claimed the full €750 entitlement were Independents Richard O’Donoghue and Marian Harkin, and Fianna Fáil’s Pádraig O’Sullivan and Cathal Crowe.

However, Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion got a Samsung Galaxy S9 that cost just €239.

Nearly all the twelve Senators who claimed under the direct purchase scheme opted for the full €750 available, according to the records.

Fianna Fáil’s Fiona O’Loughlin put in a receipt to cover the cost of a Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro, a power adaptor, and an Otterbox screen and case.

Together, costs came to €1,378.98 although the claim was capped like all the others at the €750 limit.

Senator Denis O’Donovan submitted a claim for €900 to cover the cost of an iPhone 12 and including €105 for “insurance, maintenance, [and] miscellaneous expenses”.

A sum of €750 was refunded by the Oireachtas under the scheme.

Fine Gael’s Seán Kyne submitted a receipt for €1,050 for the purchase of an iPhone 13, which included a €20 charge for “set-up [and] transfer”. The claim was subject to the usual cap.

Other Senators to submit claims for €750 in the scheme included three Fianna Fáil politicians: Lisa Chambers (an iPhone 12), Aidan Davitt (also an iPhone 12), and Timmy Dooley (an iPhone Pro 13).

A smaller claim was made by Senator Malcolm Byrne who paid out €270 for a replacement screen and repairs to an iPhone 11 Pro.

Not all purchases were made in Ireland with Fine Gael’s John Cummins buying his iPhone 13 Pro at an Apple store in New York’s Soho district for $1,087.

An information note from the Oireachtas said: “[The] scheme allows members to buy a mobile phone and car kit from a provider of their choice and claim back the cost of the equipment to a maximum of €750 in an 18-month period.

“The costs covered include the purchase of a handset, car kit, yearly insurance premium, maintenance and miscellaneous expenses. In order to be reimbursed, Members must complete a claim form and provide supporting receipts.”


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