A CONTROVERSIAL clock-in system that ensures the country's politicians turn up for work every day has cost almost €30,000 to install.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission said that the new 'fobbing' system for TDs and senators had involved a tweaking of a system that already existed for other staff.

Around 400 staff members working in Leinster House and the surrounding complex are now obliged to clock in under the new system.

A statement from the commission said: "A system of recording attendance of staff was installed in the Houses of the Oireachtas in 2009. The additional marginal cost of extending the staff system to also recording the attendance of members was €26,932, of which €18,462 has been invoiced and paid to date. The cost of administering the system is being met from within the existing resources of the service."

Members have two options when it comes to recording their attendance at Leinster House. The commission explained: "Each member was issued with a key fob which can be used at five terminals around the Leinster House complex to record attendance... Alternatively, members can choose to sign in."

The system was introduced in response to considerable public controversy over politicians' expenses, particularly the overseas travel costs of former ceann comhairle John O'Donoghue.

The expenses scandal had led to major scrutiny of the way in which expenses were paid to TDs and senators, particularly the unvouched nature of many of the claims.

Under the old system, politicians could claim either 'overnight' allowances or 'turning-up money' without any way of independently verifying if they were in Leinster House or not.