Higgins to for go half of leader's allowance
on 22/10/2012 00:00:00
Mr Higgins told the Irish Examiner that the decision to waive the legal entitlement to half the allowance had to be viewed alongside the massive funding still being drawn down by the main political parties.
"They are still getting massive amounts from the exchequer," he said.
The allowance was first introduced in 1938. It was only given to party leaders initially and was also based on the number of sitting TDs each party had. The payment was extended to individual Independents in 2001.
Mr Higgins said he had written to the Department of Finance saying that he would waive a claim to €71,520 of the allowance per annum. This would apply from, and include, December.
The decision would lead to pay cuts for his staff and fewer resources for the party, he added.
The full amount payable to the party on an annual basis from the election of two Socialist Party TDs is €143,040, he said.
The advice received from the department is that the full amount could still be claimed by Mr Higgins, even though Ms Daly has left the party.
It says that "the entitlement is calculated on the basis of the number of members elected as members of the 31 Dail, i.e. two members. The annual amount of the allowance payable is therefor €143,040.
"Any change to the status of the elected membership of the party does not alter the existing legal entitlement to the allowance, although some or all of the allowance can be waived."
Ms Daly said last month she had resigned from the party because she wanted to concentrate on building up the United Left Alliance in the Dáil. But Mr Higgins later said the Socialist Party was campaigning on justice in taxation and it was impossible for Ms Daly, as a member of it, to continue to offer support to TD Mick Wallace, who under declared €1.4m in Vat to the Revenue.
Mr Higgins said that he had also chosen to waive the legal entitlement to a party whip's allowance of €6,000 per annum again next year.
"The Socialist Party did not claim a whip's allowance for small parties of €6,000 per year in 2011, nor in 2012, nor will it in the next year," he said. "We do not believe that this is a justifiable expense."
But Mr Higgins called into question the large sums being drawn down by the main parties.
He pointed to the combined party leader's allowance and other funding for parties which were claimed last year and which went to Fine Gael (€4.5m), Labour (€2.6m), Fianna Fáil (€3.3m), and Sinn Féin (€1.5m).