Thursday 22 June 2017

Ministers staying at embassies to reduce junket cost

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

SEVERAL ministers opted to stay in embassies rather than hotels to cut down on the cost of St Patrick's Day trips.

The cost of ministerial travel and accommodation in previous years was more than €500,000 but this year's bill is expected to be well down.

Social Welfare Minister Joan Burton; Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton; Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald; Education Minister Ruairi Quinn; and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney have shunned hotels in favour of embassies and official residences of Irish ambassadors.

Staying in the residence of an ambassador or in the embassy carries no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Mr Coveney is staying in the ambassador's residence in Paris, Mr Bruton in the ambassador's home in Berlin and Ms Fitzgerald in the ambassador's house in Sydney. Ms Burton stayed in the London embassy, while Mr Quinn was at the residence of the ambassador in Rome.

The move follows controversies down through the years over ministers staying in five-star hotels, travelling in limos and on first-class air tickets.

But the new Government has clamped down on such extravagant treatment, with cabinet members travelling without spouses and with just one civil servant in tow.

In some cases, ministers have travelled with low-cost airline Ryanair.

The Taoiseach and eight ministers travelled to eight countries for the St Patrick's Day festivities -- compared with last year when 22 cabinet and junior ministers travelled to 24 countries.

Irish Independent

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