Joe McHugh and Olwyn Enright: previously double-claimed

A MARRIED couple who both serve in the Dáil have said they are claiming only half their allowances for overnight stays while working in Leinster House.

TDs Olwyn Enright and Joe McHugh each claim 50% of what they are entitled to for each night of official business in the Dáil, it is understood.

In that way, they are avoiding any further controversy over their expense claims, which caused difficulty for them when revealed in the Sunday Tribune last year.

The two TDs claim fully and separately for mileage allowances, however, as they drive separately to the Dáil and work in separate constituencies.

Under a new regime, deputies are paid a specific rate according to which constituency they serve in.

They are entitled to either a minimum unvouched payment or, if they vouch for expenses, they can claim at a slightly higher rate.

Enright is classified in category four for what is called the Travel and Accommodation Allowance, between 120 and 150kms from Dublin, which allows for payments of €32,966 annually. McHugh is in category nine, as he serves in Donegal, and is allowed claim up to €35,594 per year for living between 270 and 300kms from the Dáil.

It is understood both Enright and McHugh will be claiming substantially less than what is allowed by foregoing half of the overnight allowance.

Enright has chosen to vouch her expense claims and between March and April, the Offaly TD claimed a total of €8,687, slightly more than would be available had she chosen the unvouched option. McHugh has also opted for a vouched claim and his expenses for the two most recent months have totalled €9,124.

Enright and McHugh had double-claimed on overnight allowances for the first three years of their marriage at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of €60,000.

They ended the practice in July of last year after a worsening in the economy.