State cars: Ministers will have to pool their limos
GOVERNMENT ministers will have to pool their limousines and face being driven around in Toyota Corollas rather than ministerial Mercs.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan yesterday announced that the €5.5m-a-year cost of transporting ministers and former office holders will be reduced by a third over the next two years.
A car pooling system will be introduced for all ministers and former office holders, including Taoisigh and Presidents, and the number of garda drivers will be reduced.
But it is understood the President, Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Tanaiste of the day will still have full-time state cars.
It is expected most of the savings will come from reducing the salary costs of garda drivers, since fewer drivers will be needed.
The exact pooling arrangements still have to be worked out, but it is expected it will mainly apply to Dublin ministers.
There were indications last night that the current crop of cars will be replaced since they "are approaching the upper mileage level deemed safe for continued use".
But gas guzzling Mercedes are to be replaced by leaner cars, with the maximum engine size capped at two litres, with sources saying ministers face being driven around in Toyota Corollas and Ford Mondeos.
Mr Lenihan also announced one of the state aircraft at the Government's disposal will be retired.