Enid O'Dowd: 'small job'

A CHARTERED accountant and high-profile campaigner against generous personal allowances for politicians has offered to carry out an audit of Dáil and Seanad expenses for free.

The Houses of the Oireachtas has tendered for an auditing firm to investigate if TDs and senators are claiming their expenses properly.

Concerns have been raised that a major accountancy firm will be hired for a significant fee.

One in 10 politicians will face a random audit each year to ensure they have not been over-claiming on their entitlements.

Expenses campaigner Enid O'Dowd said she would carry out the audits for nothing if she was allowed access to the documents.

Tom O'Higgins, the auditor who was previously charged with trying to oversee expenses and allowances resigned in 2009, believing his suggestions for change were being ignored.

The Houses of the Oireachtas said it advertised the auditing position late last year and that a final decision would be made in the coming weeks.

The random checks will not start until at least the beginning of March when a full year of the new expenses system will have elapsed.

Enid O'Dowd, who has been a vocal critic of the current expenses regime, said: "After I appeared on Liveline discussing expenses, I wrote to Minister Lenihan offering to set up a system free of charge.

"My letter was merely referred to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission sometime in September… over three months later I haven't even received an acknowledgement from the commission.

"I am offering my services free of charge and in the public interest. I would only require my actual out-of-pocket expenses.

"It would be absolutely ridiculous for the commission to appoint a major auditing firm with enormous fees. This is a small job and someone who is a qualified accountant would be ideal."