Payments to the Gaiety School of Acting, public relations firm The Communications Clinic and a company run by former radio host Ivan Yates were among more than £1.27million paid by the Oireachtas by through a special allowance over the past year.
However, for the first time, the Oireachtas refused to release the names of dozens of people hired on the special secretarial allowance, saying they were personal information.
The logbook of how the €1.274m was spent is heavily redacted, with the identities of many people providing public relations, communications and secretarial services to ministers and TDs obscured.
The spending included €318,000 in payments to service providers for TDs, with former deputy minister Robert Troy spending €200 with the Gaiety School of Acting and a further €800 with Yewtree Infotainment, a company run by the former government minister Mr Yates.
Mr Troy also paid €9,225 to a company called Social Media Elite and €750 to iQuest Ltd, according to documents released under FoI.
Deputy Minister Damien English spent €1,050 with the communications clinic, but details of nearly €20,000 of other spending on his part have been redacted.
Justice Secretary Helen McEntee spent around €3,750 with a social media company called GN Digital Marketing, but details of €15,000 of spending were hidden in the expense log.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue donated €20,664 to Communiqué International, while Deputy Minister Jack Chambers donated €15,000 to the same company.
According to records, Deputy Minister Niall Collins incurred costs of just over €61,000 with a company called Liberi Management Consultancy, although this figure relates to a period of over 12 months.
Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney paid €40,590 to Cork-based Cameo Communications, while Deputy Minister Thomas Byrne paid €23,850 to Behavioral Insights Training.
A total of €824,000 was paid to more than 20 DT – including a significant number of ministers – to hire a temporary employee on bail to provide secretarial services.
However, the Oireachtas for the first time refused to provide the names of the service providers hired by the TDs.
Around €37,000 was paid out to service providers on behalf of senators, with Fine Gael’s Joe O’Reilly spending just over €19,000 with Consilium Communications. Payments were also made for two other senators, but the names of the vendors have been redacted.
A total of €95,000 was spent to provide five senators with certified temporary employees for secretarial services under the scheme, with the names of those hired having been redacted.
In a ruling letter, the Oireachtas said it was withholding much of the information about the program for personal information reasons. He said the public interest did not outweigh the privacy rights of those affected, and the case has already been appealed.
In a briefing note, the Oireachtas said the purpose of the secretarial allowance was to assist with expenses arising from the purchase of secretarial, public relations, information technology and of training.
The note read: ‘Ministers may opt for a fully justified annual allowance of €41,092.’