Saturday, June 5, 2010

Politicians Expenses - Beverly Flynn and how its done

Well, can you say you were surprised! And this is just the start, and its not the first time either

With the leaking of politicians expenses, we are beginning to see a buildup of this topic, as we saw in the UK.

However, our politicians are so overpaid that corruption on expenses will not be such an issue.
I still believe that Taoiseach Cowen is a fundamentally decent and honest man, but the FF party are corrupt to the core, and that is something he cannot deal with effectively

Some politicians really do take the micky, in particular those with a dynastic sense of entitlement.

Another example of the faults in Ireland's dynastic system is the bauld Bev Flynn.
Elected to her fathers seat in 1997 she is a good example of what is wrong with our system.

And don't think this is an anti Bev rant, she is just an example of what one can get away with in constituency based politics.

Flynn has had a complex relationship with Fianna Fáil.
She resigned from the party in February 1999 because of the allegations against her but rejoined November that year.

In April 2001, she was expelled from the party but was allowed to rejoin Fianna Fáil again before the 2002 general election.

She was expelled again in May 2004 after the results of her libel case were made public.

She successfully contested the 2007 general election as an independent and was readmitted to the Fianna Fáil party April 2008, and that's an important date in relation to expenses.

On a national level she is best known for the libel case cost that the tax payer a fortune.
RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird claimed that while at National Irish Bank Bev had assisted clients of the bank in evading tax by funnelling undeclared income to schemes in the Isle of Man.

Flynn denied the claims and sued for libel in the High Court in 2001.
The jury found the allegations were found to be substantially true - that RTÉ had proved Flynn had encouraged people to avail of illegal investment schemes.

So we have a sitting TD, guilty of advising people to illegally avoid tax.

Thus, despite Flynn technically winning the case, she was awarded no damages, along with costs being awarded against her. Flynn then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Ireland, where she lost.

Flynn at first offered to settle with RTÉ for €590,000. RTÉ rejected this and moved to have her declared bankrupt in 2007.

Being bankrupt would stop her being a TD

Her lawyers were granted a postponement on proceedings to allow her to challenge the constitutionality of legislation which bars bankrupts from Dáil membership.
It was a litigious frolic in her own interest. She subsequently abandoned plans to challenge the legislation.
In June 2007, Flynn announced that she had reached a final settlement with RTÉ, with Flynn paying €1.24 million of the outstanding €2.4 million.

That leaves the tax payer with a bill of €1.16 million for RTE's legal bill as RTÉ, Ireland's public service broadcaster, is part-funded by a television License fee.

It also shows a two tier law system, a person fined 600 Euro could not say to the courts 'I'll pay half of it' - she essentially did.

Other funds that are questionable

In 2008 she rejoined Fianna Fáil, but still claimed an entitlement to a tax-free allowance available to independent TDs.

However, upon her return to Fianna Fáil there were questions about whether or not she continued to qualify.

She responded that, in addition to her €106,000 basic salary, she still qualified for the €41,000 allowance as she won her seat as an independent TD.

After meeting with the Taoiseach Brian Cowen January 2009, she stated that she would no longer claim the allowance.
In 2004 she claimed enough mileage last year to drive around the circumference of the Earth two times over.

She even claimed over €8000 in mileage for a period when the Dail only sat six times.

Bev Flynn was a member of the Western Health Board from 1999 until 2004. I did try to find out how much she claimed in expenses for that period from the WHB - which is declared separately from TDs expenses, but was told I would have to pay €200 for administrative purposes - so much for freedom of information.
She was also a member of Mayo County Council from 1996 to 2003, one would also like to find out what her expenses were during this period, which overlaps with her work as a TD for 7 years.

In last weeks municipal elections in Iceland, voters sent the old party system a clear message.
Reykjavik, saw the new Best Party take six out of 15 council seats and more than a third of the vote.
The new party won the elections by protesting against a system it says has failed.

I can only hope that Amhran Nua can achieve the same thing.

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