State quango Enterprise Ireland has spent €111,000 on posh school fees for the children of six of its overseas executives already this year.
Enterprise Ireland has 57 expatriate staff working in 30 overseas offices. "Of the 57, there are six staff whose family members received schooling allowances, totalling €110,979.70. This is for 11 children attending primary and secondary schools," according to a statement from the agency.
In 2012, Enterprise Ireland received State funding of almost €293m and over €23m from other third-party sources. Most of this was given out in grant aid to support business, however the running costs of Enterprise Ireland hit a whopping €86m last year.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Independent detail the price bands for "international expatriate school fee costs". Kindergarten prices in a major European city ranged from almost €15,500 to €22,000 per year including annual tuition, entrance fees and "non-refundable fees"
Primary school fees ranged between €15,500 to €23,000, while secondary school fees ranged from €16,350 to €26,800, based on a September 2012 document compiled by consultants Mercer.
Enterprise Ireland is the State agency charged with supporting businesses and exporters. The quango, now chaired by former KPMG chief Terence O'Rourke, is the biggest provider of grant aid to companies in the country, doling out over €333m in funding to companies in 2012.
"Enterprise Ireland may provide assistance towards school fees in respect of an expatriate's accompanying children who are attending primary or secondary level school at host locations from the start of the academic year following the child's fourth birthday and to the term in which the child's 18th birthday falls," according to the agency.
"Applications will be considered where assignee satisfies Enterprise Ireland that it is necessary for the child concerned to attend a fee paying primary or secondary school because: local public education is not a realistic option; and fees are reasonable having regard to the level of fees charged by other suitable fee-paying schools in the host location."
The State body told the Sunday Independent that executives which receive the payments must "provide details of the range and cost of local education facilities (both private and public) and specify the reason why proposed school has been selected. Following this, there is a validation process and assessment of reasons and the need / justification for each case".
It added that it does not provide financial assistance for "books, sports activities, stationary, school trips, transport, lunches or any other miscellaneous items, even if described by the school as compulsory". Payments are not made for "pre-school, creche, nursery or child minding costs" either.
Enterprise Ireland has offices in Amsterdam, Boston, Dubai, Dusseldorf, Hong Kong, London, Madrid, Milan, New York, Paris, Mountain View, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Stockholm and Toronto. It also has operations in Irish embassies, in Beijing, Seoul, Johannesburg, Shanghai and Warsaw.