Joe and Olwyn Enright

A MARRIED couple, who are both TDs, have said they will not be paying back an estimated €30,000 claimed in overnight allowances.

Joe Enright and Olwyn Enright released a short statement saying their decision to stop double claiming was made because of the deterioration in the public finances.

The couple, who serve constituencies in Donegal and Laois/Offaly, said they would still both be entitled to claim the overnight allowance.

A statement from the Fine Gael press office said: "When Olwyn and Joe saw the shortfall in the public purse in July of last year, they decided that regardless of the fact that the law allows for TDs to share accommodation and claim expenses, they were going to refuse the payment for one of them for the period from July on.

"They will continue to do so until clearer rules are introduced for TDs who are either married or share accommodation." They declined to answer a number of other questions put to them by the Sunday Tribune.

Concerns had been raised by some TDs that the double-claiming might have compromised Olwyn Enright's position as spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs.

In 2005, the year that Enright and McHugh got married, Olwyn Enright was in the middle of the pack when it came to claiming TD's expenses.

Her expenses claim in 2005 was €46,078 while figures for her husband, who was a senator at the time, are not available.