I would like to respond to Dáil spindoctor Mark Mulqueen's letter (Letters, 16 January) as it is misleading regarding myself.
As background for your readers, I should explain that I appeared on Liveline last year and, in my professional capacity as a chartered accountant, offered to set up an improved expenses regime free of charge.
I criticised the 'reformed' system introduced in March 2010 and received great support from listeners. Mr Mulqueen and TD Leo Varadkar also appeared on that Liveline programme and opposed my views.
After the programme, I followed up my offer in writing to the Minister for Finance. This letter was dated 13 September 2010. I received a reply dated 23 September 2010, which said it was a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and that my correspondence had been passed to the commission.
I wrote to the minister on 7 October saying this was really a matter he should deal with as the commission, a cross-party committee, can only make proposals to him regarding expenses.
Mr Mulqueen is correct to say that the Department of Finance responded "in detail" on 11 November. However, the detail in this three-page letter was largely irrelevant and it merely waffled on about recent changes in expenses and the new system brought in last year. The letter concluded by thanking me for sending the minister a copy of the book Snouts in the Trough by Sunday Tribune journalist Ken Foxe.
The letter's message, however, was clear – we like the present system in which we make the rules.
I sent a reminder to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission on 10 January and received an acknowledgement dated 14 January thanking me for my correspondence of 15 March 2010 (I did not send any correspondence on that date) and other correspondence between myself and the Minister for Finance.
Regarding the audit of those politicians opting to have their public representation allowance vouched, it would surely be more cost-effective to use the services of the trained staff already employed in the office of the Comptroller & Auditor General or the Local Government Audit Service
Some 10% of politicians opting for the vouched €25,700 yearly allowance will be audited. This is a very small assignment. I understand that just over half of our politicians have opted for the vouched system.
I had assumed that this audit work would be carried out internally until informed otherwise by the Sunday Tribune earlier this month.
When I checked the position, the tender deadline had passed. Mr Mulqueen said 45 people had tendered.
My interest is in setting up a better system, rather than in auditing part of a very flawed one.
Enid O'Dowd FCA
34 Moyne Road
Ranelagh, Dublin 6