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Analysis/Comment Last Updated: Aug 27, 2010 - 10:07:36 AM

Cyclist John Gormley defends tax-free expenses of €200,000
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Aug 27, 2010 - 7:48:36 AM

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Green Party leader John Gormley, who before becoming a minister in 2007, cycled into his place of work, Leinster House, on Thursday presented the lame excuse that his expenses are among the lowest of all TDs in Dáil Eireann and are substantially lower than those of other deputies in his constituency.

Gormley who lives in Ringsend, South Dublin, claimed 'pocket money' for expenses incurred  during the normal workday, such as lunch, coffee etc and travel on his bicycle. He said yesterday that there was nothing unusual about him working on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve in Leinster House. He is reported to have claimed “turning-up” expenses for both dates in 1997.  One can assume that the diligent deputy on Christmas Eve, had to take a break from shopping at the nearby Grafton Street, to sign-on for his pocket money.

The Minister for the Environment said on Thursday on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Pat Kenny , that if one looked at a “league table” his expenses were among the lowest in the Dáil.

Everyone else is on the make is as good an excuse as any from the man who in February 2007 slammed the world of ' Planet Bertie.'

Finfacts said in July 2007 that based on John Gormley's own words, he was possibly the greatest hypocrite in Irish politics having orbited onto the den of iniquity, after he publicly ached to sign a Faustian Bargain: "On Planet Bertie you can sign blank cheques because everyone does it, apparently. On Planet Bertie you can spend the average industrial wage on make-up. On Planet Bertie you can get loans from people that you don't have to pay back. On Planet Bertie you can save €50,000, without a bank account. And on Planet Bertie, climate change doesn't exist. All that stuff is made up by Trevor Sargent.

On Planet Bertie there's a strange cult called Fianna Fáil, a type of religion without vision or values; and every year in August they go on their annual pilgrimage to one of their sacred sites, the tent at the Galway races, where they pay homage to their gods and the gods bestow them with gifts for doing their bidding."  

“Look at my expenses. Compare my expenses to those of my constituency colleagues. It averages out at around €18,000 per annum. That is substantially lower than anybody else,” Gormley said on Thursday.

The Irish Times reports that since he became a Government Minister in 2007, Gormley’s expenses have been subject to a different system to backbenchers, and therefore they cannot be directly compared to the expenses of his constituency colleagues.

In 2009, total expenses paid to the other three Deputies in Dublin South East were: Chris Andrews (Fianna Fail) €26,544; Lucinda Creighton (Fine Gael) €26,371; and Ruairí Quinn (Labour) €18,641.

The Dublin TDs who claimed the highest expenses in 2009 were Tom Kitt (Fianna Fáil) €35,877; Michael Woods (Fianna Fáil); 32,025; Sean Ardagh (Fianna Fáil) €31,052; and Brian Hayes (Fine Gael) €31,020.

The average expenses claimed by the 46 Dublin Deputies last year was €18,500.

Beyond a radius of 15 miles from Leinster House is the country and an overnight allowance is payable.

Earlier this week, the minister withdrew a threat to drivers of commercial vehicles used for school runs and other non-business journeys.

Gormley said the restrictions were aimed at drivers like those of "high-end jeeps" who manipulated their vehicle’s tax status to reduce annual levies from €2,000 down to €286.

He admitted in yesterday's radio interview that in the past, he had been ferried in fellow Green minister Eamon Ryan’s commercially registered van and that such occasional trips should not bring people into conflict with the law

He did not define what 'occasional' meant and said it was up to gardaí to use their "discretion" - -  another Irish solution for an Irish problem! 

The Sunday Tribune reported in Oct 2009 that Minister Gormley took a ferry to Holyhead in an attempt to appear environmentally friendly - - but had a Mercedes travel five hours and 300 miles from London to collect him. The car cost the taxpayer £2,200. After a climate change event, Gormley flew home.

© Copyright 2010 by Finfacts.com

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