An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Tuesday, May 04, 2004  

European Parliament

Looks like my mate John Cushnahan is glad to be retiring. From Saturday's IT Radio Review:

"Hans-Peter Martin isn't the sort of co-worker you ask to clock in for you or help you pull a sickie. The Austrian MEP has spotted that the EU is one great big gravy train and he's on a mission to pull up the tracks.

Martin explained on Liveline (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays) that it's possible for MEPs to trouser up to €100,000 in expenses (a lot of it without receipts) and that's on top of their already generous salaries. When Fine Gael MEP John Cushnahan came on the line it all developed into a right ding-dong and callers to the programme certainly felt the whistle-blowing Austrian was the victor.

One of the nice little earners open to MEPs that Martin is particularly exercised about is "Strasbourg Friday". The parliament doesn't sit on Friday, so there's no need for anyone to be there, but for years that didn't stop nearly 150 MEPs from signing in early in the morning, getting their €262 daily allowance and legging it. Since Martin and his derailing buddies got on the case, including being there with cameras to video those MEPs signing in, the number is down to 30 people.

"On that Friday you signed in at 7.14 a.m., then you got into a taxi," said Martin to Cushnahan. His forensic detailing of what goes on - all perfectly legally - was fascinating and sickening at the same time. Then, he said, Cushnahan took a 235- kilometre taxi ride to a low-cost airport.

"How does he expect me to get to Limerick? Am I going to do a Doctor Spock?" responded Cushnahan, who made Limerick sound about as easy to get to as Pluto. Then it got really nasty.

"He's a liar," shouted Cushnahan, who during the programme made much of his role as a global peacemaker, "an absolute liar . . . and a malicious, twisted individual."

"I feel sorry for you that you use these words," said the ever-rational Martin, in the icy voice of a man who feels sure he's got it right."

posted by Sarah | 23:10 0 comments
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