The Parliamentary Activities Allowance (formerly known as the Party Leader’s Allowance) is provided for in the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Act 1938 as amended most recently by the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices)(Amendment) Act, 2014.
The allowance is paid to the parliamentary leader of a qualifying party in relation to expenses arising from the parliamentary activities, including research, of the party. Payments are made in respect of members of the party elected to Dáil Éireann and members elected/nominated to Seanad Éireann at the last preceding general election or a subsequent bye-election or, in the case of Seanad Éireann, nominated to it after the last preceding general election. The legislation also provides that payments may be made to a member of Dáil or Seanad Éireann who is elected other than as a member of a qualifying party- i.e. an independent member.
The conditions governing entitlement to payment of the allowance are set out in the Act. The primary restriction in the Act on the use of the allowance is that it may not be used in respect of election expenses. The allowance increases in line with general pay increases in the Civil Service and is not subject to income tax.
The amount payable to party leaders is calculated on a tiered basis by reference to the number of party members who are elected or nominated to the Dáil or Seanad and is fixed at the time of the election, or following a bye-election, as follows:
Party TDs Annual Rate per Member Government Parties *
First 10 Members €64,368 €42,912
11 to 30 Members €51,493 €34,329
More than 30 Members €25,754 €17,169
*The legislation provides that, in the case of a qualifying party forming part of the Government, the combined allowances due in respect of TDs of that party are reduced by one third.
Party Senators Annual Rate per Member
First 5 Members €42,089
More than 5 Members €21,045
The annual rates applicable to independent members of Dáil and Seanad Éireann are €37,037 and €21,045 respectively.
The legislation provides that each party leader and independent member must prepare a statement of expenditure for the allowance, to have it audited by an independent auditor and furnish it with the auditor’s report to the Standards in Public Office (the Commission) Commission. Based on the accounts submitted, the Commission is required to make a report in relation to the use of the Parliamentary Activities Allowance and cause a copy of the report to be laid before the Oireachtas.