Axing ministerial drivers won't save €4m as claimed
Published 20/03/2011 | 05:00
The new Government will not save €4m a year by axing ministerial drivers, as claimed last week.
The vast majority of the €280,000 cost per minister (per year) is related to salary costs for garda drivers, and the Sunday Independent has confirmed that all gardai employed in the ministerial fleet would be retained.
"Gardai will be moved back to doing front line police work. Over time real savings will be achieved, surplus cars will be sold off and the public can have confidence that reforms will be genuine," said a government spokesman.
Under the plans, the President, Taoiseach, Tanaiste, Minister for Justice, the Ceann Comhairle, the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions will have full-time garda drivers.
The other 12 members of cabinet and former Taoisigh Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern, John Bruton, Albert Reynolds and Liam Cosgrave will lose their garda drivers, but will have garda protection at their place of residence.
However, the 12 ministers will now be entitled to employ civilian drivers, as has been the case with junior ministers up until now.
At present, there are about 55 garda drivers assigned to the ministerial fleet and it is reckoned that 22 will be retained in the garda driving detail, the remainder re-deployed.
Under the old scheme, each minister had two drivers assigned to them, who worked one week on and one week off. Once allowances and add-ons were factored in, salaries for those in the fleet were more than €70,000 a year. These will now be replaced by civilian drivers and ministers will now have to supply their own cars at their own expense. The expected salaries for the civilian drivers is set to be under €40,000.
One of Mr Ahern's last requests, before leaving office, was permission to keep his Mercedes S Class, worth about €150,000. His successor Mr Cowen acceded to the request at the time.