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Friday 13 June 2014

Oireachtas Foreign Parliamentary Travel 2014 Exhibit

The oireachtas has started releasing non-personal FOI records that journalist and other request to the public, including Foreign Travel Expenses, 1 January 2014 to 30 April 2014

The information was requested by the journalist Brian Byrne for the Independent on the 28th of April and was released to him the 26th of May and published publically on the Oireachtas website on the 28 May 2014. I havn't been able to find any story written on this yet. Its an interesting development a government body releasing the data to hte public before a jouranlist writes a story on it. Of course the journalist may have more talent in finding whats interesting in the data if anything. Oireachtas foreign travel has decreased significally since the boom. The total OFA for January 2014 to April is €72,741. The Decision Letter R801 points out that 95% of travel is economy class only using business class for 1 long haul flight to Japan. The Information note on Oireachtas Travel R801 describes the different committees that Oireachtas members travel abroad for.

Oireachtas foreign travel bill falls €250,000 in year Irish Independent 2009.

Gavin Sheridan of thestory.ie had done work on this before to get the Oireachtas expenses including foreign travel. It was very difficult to get useful data from the Oireachtas and when he eventually got it the amount was overwhelming to me, it might be easier to get now but still need to find a way to display the data meaningfully.

Also trying to cross check parliamentary travel with Seanad attendance record.

Oireachtas foreign Travel

Fine Gael5052,371
Fianna Fail1015,402
Sinn Fein81,930

I had been using MIT Exhibit 2 to disaply that data but googlemaps V2 is depreciated so I had to move onto Exhibit 3, works better but slightly less features. Exhibit 3 was funded by Library of Congress. with developement done by MIT Libraries, MIT CSAIL and Zepheira.

I had to use Scraperwiki tablextract to turn the PDFs into spreadsheet files, but the pdfs files the oireachtas provided still required manual re-arranging.

I've also begun to use < href="https://www.mapbox.com/">Mapbox's Geo for Google Docs Google Spreadsheets script along with Mapquests geocoding api. Mapping a Google Doc Spreadsheet.

Exhibit uses a form of the xml output url from a google spreadsheet to access that data (ATOM), but the new google spreadsheets don't provide that so I had re-use an old google spreadsheet. you may be able to use this link to revert to creating an old style spreadsheets

Oireachtas Foreign Travel data

International Parliamentary Bodies

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Fingal Council Councillors statutory bodies membership 2004-2009


2004 AGM 25th June, 2004

continued election member to various statutory bodies 12th July, 2004

2009 AGM 19th June

continued election member to various statutory bodies July 13th 2009

The provisions of Paragraph 18 of Schedule 10 to the Local Government Act 2001 regarding grouping apply to the appointment of these Members.

Fingal County Council Councillors Pay and Expenses 2014

July 2015 New reporting templates and reuiqrements for conferences.

Hogan welcomes the most radical reform of local government in over 100 years
Phil hogan published a number of statutory instruments related to Local Government Reform Act 2014, but could someone explain it in plain English please.

Update Found more information on the Association of Irish Local Government among the Legislation & Regulations circulars is the LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances and Induction Training Course Papers

2014 Statutory Instruments Among other Local Government Reform related secondary legislation being commenced for the new 2014 council term is,

S.I. No. 235/2014 - Local Government (Representational Payment For Members) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 cites the S.I. No. 552/2001 - Local Government (Representational Payment For Members) Regulations, 2001 which sets the representational payment at 11,000 which doesn't seem to be what county councillors are getting which is about 16644.54 not sure how they came to that number.

Representational Payment For Members is set at €11,000 in S.I. No. 552/2001 - Local Government (Representational Payment For Members) Regulations, 2001

S.I. No. 236/2014 - Local Government (Expenses of Local Authority Members) Regulations 2014.
This SI suggests, I think, that the payments will be made on basis of recorded attendance at meetings. 80% of meetings need to be attended to get travel and subsistence and attendance should be put online onece a quarter as per Section 142 LG Act 2001. Miscellaneous expenses are paid on an above 50% attendance pro rata.

SPC chair

Part IV
Allowances for certain Chairpersons
A local authority may pay an annual allowance not exceeding €6,000 to a
Chairperson of a Strategic Policy Committee.
Allowances to Chairpersons of SPCs
The rules in relation to the payment of an annual allowance to Strategic Policy
Committees are set out in Part IV of these directions. The allowance is expenses
related and therefore are not subject to income tax.

LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances

Mobile Allowance
LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances
page 14
Part III
Rules in respect of Mobile Telephone Allowance

Local authorities shall, in the first instance, seek the most economical options
either by negotiating a contract for the provision of mobile voice and data services
(“bundle”) for its elected members or including elected members in the local
authority’s own contracted bundle for such services. Only in the event a cheaper
option not being available should an allowance in accordance with paragraph 2
below be considered. Local authorities shall be required to document and retain
details of all costings to demonstrate that payment of an allowance is the cheaper
2.An annual allowance of 50% of total vouched mobile phone costs associated with
the public duties of a member of a local authority may be paid, subject to a
maximum allowance of €600 per annum and subject to paragraph 1 above.

LG12 -2014 SI 236 of 2014 Local Government (Expenses of Local Authority Members) Regulations 2014
Mobile Telephone Expenses Allowances http://ailg.ie/uploads/file/pdf/lg12-2014-si-236-of-2014-local-government-expenses-of-local-authority-members-regulations-2014-1.pdf

Some councillors aren't happy with the mobile bundle related limit
Keep it brief, councillors told, as phone bills are capped
Less talk for councillors as phone bill cut down to €264


one of the highlighted changes was that conferences allowance be reduced from €4,700 to €700 but I think you can still use your other expenses allowance for conferences as long as they're approved ? Each council is given €700 per councillor but can spend up to €1000 on one councillor conference payements LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances This blog and the Irish Independent also had looked at conferences expenses and the lack conference reports

The rates of pay are different for different sized/populated countiess or cities.

It refers to subsistence rate as from Section 142 of the Local Government Act, 2001 but doesn't say what it is, there either it must be stated in some other SI.

For fingal

Index = 150 (travel rate)
Index = 75 (subsistence rate)

I have to guess the annual rate is 2,540 for Fingal (the second highest) as per Part 1 Rates LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances

Max extra payment for Chair and Deputy chair for Fingal is 30,000 and 6,000 Table for Part IV Part A LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances

Other Local Goverment pay and expenses related related SIs

S.I. No. 391/1993 - Local Government (Expenses of Local Authority Members) Regulations, 1993.
S.I. No. 361/1995 - Local Government (Expenses of Local Authority Members) (Amendment) Regulations, 1995.
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the standard salary, allowances and benefits payable to councillor PQ
S.I. No. 668/2006 - Local Government (Expenses of Local Authority Members) Regulations 2006
S.I. No. 37/2010 - Local Government Act 2001 (Section 142) Regulations 2010.

Local Government & Elected Members Booklet produced by the Department of Environment seems to be the closest to plain English guide though it was written in 2004,

Local Government & Elected Members Booklet - Part 1
Local Government & Elected Members Booklet - Part 2
Local Government & Elected Members Booklet - Part 3

The third part has tables and formulas for the subsistence rates and allowances amd mileage but doesn't say where its originally set.

I tried to input all the variables for Fingal Councillors 2012 to get a real world example of this.

An allegation of contravention report gives an example of the workings of the travel and subsistance expenses.

Fingal council provides the data but not the rules the data results from. Others councils like SDCC did provide some explaination. SDCC also publishes a list of attendance.

Mobile allowance
2014 LG12 - 2014 Revised Arrangements for Expenses Allowances

Must seek cheapest bundle get 50% of cost up to €600.

Councillor Payments and Expenses most up to date but in pdf format.
Fingal OpenData same as above in .csv format etc.

Local Government Act, 2001 the previous major Local government bill.

Conference reports

The chair of Fingal county council said notices re committees are put in the local press.

What notice re committees in local press was the chair referring to on the 9th of June
at http://www.fingalcoco.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/128344/start_time/1880000

I looked in Fingal news advertisement archive for 2014 but couldn't find it Fingal Newspaper advertisements I had to access the 2013 Newspaper Notices via the internet archive.

The Chair said conference/external committee/forum/training reports are for 'public consumption' but they are still not published online. http://www.fingalcoco.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/128344/start_time/1990000

A councillor asked the Organisation and Procedures Committee to put the conference reports online in 2011

Minutes of Meeting of County Council held on 11/04/2011

The issue of publishing conference reports on the internet was raised by Councillor Cian O’Callaghan at the County Council meeting held on 13th September, 2010. It was agreed at that time that this matter would be discussed at a future Organisation and Procedures Committee Meeting.

Mr Stephen Peppard outlined the process regarding Councillors attending conferences and producing conference reports. Following a brief discussion it was agreed that a folder would be available at the County Council meeting each month containing conference reports.
could these be put online from now on please.

I consider public=online.