US-based Senator Billy Lawless 'doesn't know' how his expenses will work

He was one of the Seanad nominees appointed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Billy Lawless, Seanad, nominee, Chicago, US, immigration reform, expenses, J1, job,

President Barack Obama (right) is introduced by Billy Lawless (left) on stage before speaking at the Copernicus Community Center in Chicago to discuss immigration reform | Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP/Press Association Images

Newly-appointed Irish Senator Billy Lawless says he does not know how his expenses will be worked out, as he is based in the United States.

He was one of the Seanad nominees appointed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week.

He is an advocate for Irish immigrants in the US, and also hopes that Irish people abroad will be able to vote in upcoming elections.

The Galway-born restaurateur, who has been conferred with the Freedom of the City, is now based in Chicago.

He says he hopes to attend most sittings of the new Seanad, but the logistics have not been worked out.

"I don't have the details...I will be getting those I'm sure...this week of course and to work out the logistics of how I'm going to manage it", he told Newstalk Breakfast.

A Senator is given a basic salary of €65,000 - while they are entitled to up to €29,565 a year in travel expenses.

Asked how his travel expenses will be paid for, he replied: "I honestly don't know...I have to discuss that with the department of course - I really don't know".

Meanwhile, Senator Lawless has dismissed reports that his appointment was due to the fact that he gave Aoibhinn Kenny - Enda Kenny's daughter - a job.

The Irish Mail on Sunday claims that Senator Lawless gave her a summer J1 job three years ago. But Mr Lawless said the suggestion was "absolutely ridiculous".

"I get about 50 to 60 - if not more - calls every year about J1 students coming over; it's nothing knew".

"We take a few on ourselves".

"Aoibhinn was probably lucky she came in one of the first ones because we would have only a few positions anyway".

"Because I knew her - of course, why wouldn't you look after a friend's daughter if they're coming out?", he added.