TDs and Senators can be marked present at Leinster House even when they are ill, abroad on official business, or for other special circumstances.

Politicians can be paid expenses for getting to and from work, and staying overnight in Dublin, even when they haven't actually been there.

The TDs and Senators can seek what is known as ‘reconciliation’ of attendance when they cannot attend sittings of the Dail or Seanad in person.

If granted, the extra days count towards the payment of their annual travel and accommodation allowance, which is supposed to be paid according to how many days they turn up for work.

Under the current complicated system, TDs and Senators have to clock in once every day and must reach 120 days every year to be allowed to get their full entitlement of expenses.

If they do not reach that limit, they can be docked money, which is calculated at the rate of 1% of their travel and accommodation expenses for each day that they are below the 120-day threshold.

At current rates, the politicians are paid an allowance of between €5,250 and €34,065 each year according to how far they live from Leinster House. The payments are higher for TDs than for Senators.

Figures released by the Oireachtas reveal that seven politicians were able to be marked present at work for an average of 25 days each while off sick in the most recent six month period for which figures are available.

Those 25 days would count towards the 120-day target they must reach each year to be paid their allowances in full.

The ill health has to be signed off by a GP and the identities of those who benefit from it are not given for personal reasons.

Another Oireachtas member was able to claim four days worth of expenses for what are known as ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

The Oireachtas did not elaborate on what those circumstances were and said the identity of this person would also be protected.

In the past, TDs were able to claim attendance at the Dail when stranded abroad, for example after the 2010 eruptions of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull.

Hundreds of days have also been reconciled while TDs and Senators were travelling abroad on official business.

On many of those occasions, they were able to claim additional expenses for official meetings of organisations like the Council of Europe, OCSE or committee travel.

Even after some of the most sought-after trips – the so-called bilaterals – where politicians are put up by foreign governments, sometimes in very high standard accommodation, a number of TDs and Senators have sought to be marked down as present in Leinster House while abroad.

However, when 'reconciliation' is sought for when a politician is on official business abroad, a €60 per day deduction is made from their annual allowance.

A spokesman for the Oireachtas said that members must certify at the end of the year that monies claimed and paid were used fully in accordance with regulations.

He said: ‘This allows members return unused monies to the Oireachtas at the end of the year. However, members may opt at any stage in the year to stop receiving any allowance.’

The spokesman said when members were out of work with a long-term illness, they were paid zero for travel and accommodation and this was recorded in a monthly publication of expenses.

Claims for reconciliation for sick leave and extraordinary circumstances:

2011: 29 days medical – claimed by three people; 3 days extraordinary circumstances – claimed by one person.

2012: 147 days medical – claimed by twelve people; 3 days extraordinary circumstances – claimed by one person.

2013: 214 days medical – claimed by 18 people; 17 days extraordinary circumstances – claimed by 3 people.

Jan- 25 Feb 2014: 20 days medical – claimed by 4 people; 0 days extraordinary.

26 Feb - 25 Aug 2014: 177 days medical – claimed by 7 people; 4 days extraordinary – claimed by one person.