The taxpayer spent around €17,000 last year buying new phones for TDs and senators

Taxpayers spent around €17,000 last year buying new phones for TDs and senators.

Under the Oireachtas rules, politicians can reclaim 750 euros every eighteen months under the so-called direct purchase program for the purchase of phones, equipment and insurance.

Since the beginning of June last year, 14 TDs and 12 Senators have used the program, with the majority opting to claim the full €750 bounty.

Kerry Independent Michael Healy-Rae has spent €1,250 on new gear, including an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max that costs €1,000 before tax.

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

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

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

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

Other TDs claiming the full €750 claim 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.

Almost all 12 senators who made claims under the direct buy program opted for the full €750 available, according to records.

Fiona O’Loughlin of Fianna Fáil submitted a receipt to help cover the cost of a Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro, power adapter, and Otterbox screen and case.

The total costs amounted to 1,378.98 euros, with the claim like all others being capped at 750 euros.

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

Under the scheme, an amount of €750 was reimbursed by the Oireachtas.

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

Other senators filing demands for €750 under the program 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 €270 for a replacement screen and repairs on an iPhone 11 Pro.

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

An informational note from the Oireachtas states: “[The] The program allows members to buy a mobile phone and car kit from a supplier of their choice and claim back the cost of the equipment up to a maximum of €750 over a period of 18 months.

“The costs covered include the purchase of a handset, a car kit, the annual insurance premium, maintenance and miscellaneous expenses. To receive a refund, members must complete a claim form and provide supporting documents.” The taxpayer spent around €17,000 last year buying new phones for TDs and senators

Fry Electronics Team

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