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Government Waste: €560k spent on Govt St Patrick’s day trips

Wednesday March 12th, 2008, from Cian McCormack in RTE

This year Ministers will jet around the world representing Ireland for St Patrick’s Day. Last year Taoiseach Bertie Ahern went to the US, while ministers and officials went to Italy, Russia, Singapore, Vietnam and other places.

How much did all this travel cost? And what kind of things did the ministers and their entourages spend the money on? Cian McCormack found out using the Freedom of Information Act.

The total cost to send the Taoiseach and 27 junior ministers and officials abroad to represent Ireland for St Patrick’s Day was more than €560,000.

However, that figure itself could be higher because the cost of the Government jet – which was used by the Taoiseach, Minister Mary Harney and Minister Seamus Brennan – was not included in any response to the FOI requests that were submitted by Morning Ireland.

Also, Minister Frank Fahey’s trip to India was not included in the Department of Justice response.

Also, other departments did not include accommodation costs because they could not. For example, when Minister John O’Donoghue was at Cheltenham his accommodation was paid for by Horse Racing Ireland.

The most expensive trip taken was Noel Dempsey’s to the US from 13 to the 23 March. It cost almost €75,000 for Mr Dempsey, his wife Bernadette, his press advisor, the Assistant Principal and Executive officer of the Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources to travel to Atlanta, San Francisco and San Antonio. Flights for the five people cost €42,000.

Based on the costs missing from the above, it’s not unrealistic to increase this to maybe €650,000? And then lets add 5% inflation to see how much they’re going to waste by getting the same jollies again this year.

So, I’m adding two more incidents to the count in the banner, and a total of €1,332,500. And that’s just for 2 year. That’d do a whole lot of good in the Health Service, or for ABA teaching in our schools.

And finally, I loved the comment texted into The Last Word on TodayFm which has probably made the most sense in all of this. If we really wanted to advertise ourselves and our country to those in other countries, shouldn’t we be bringing the decision makers here, rather than sending over our less than impressive politicians (who’re more likely to only be meeting our own Irish ambassadors and ex-pats than anyone else anyway).

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