Envoys have to make do with 'cattle class'
DURING the boom, their mission was to wine and dine for Ireland around the world, and not to worry about the bill for doing so.
Last week, however, it was a very different story -- as our 76 ambassadors flew economy class into Dublin to receive their orders personally from Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore.
It seems that this time, every expense that could be spared was spared by the Department of Foreign Affairs in bringing home our Heads of Mission for an in-depth briefing on how to restore Ireland's battered international reputation.
Asked by the Sunday Independent how many of our diplomats flew first class or business class (or, dare we mention it, on the government jet), a spokesman for the department said that all 76 had flown economy class on commercial flights to Dublin.
The full cost for these flights will not be available until the end of June, when they are due to come through the individual embassies' accounts, he added.
Asked what arrangements Iveagh House had made for hotel accommodation for those ambassadors who might not have a home in Dublin, the spokesman revealed how all were required to find lodgings at the relatively meagre rate of €75 per day.
"Heads of Mission have been given an accommodation ceiling of €75 a night, ie, the price of a standard hotel room in Dublin, and have been asked to make their own accommodation arrangements on that basis. All claims have to be vouched. It is expected that those that do have accommodation available in Dublin will avail of it in order to help minimise costs," the spokesman said.
Asked how long our ambassadors would be staying in Ireland following the conclusion of their two days of meetings, the spokesman said most were expected to return to their postings immediately.
"Heads of Mission are expected to depart following the conclusion of the Conference. Any Heads of Mission choosing to stay on (many will be having their own bilateral contacts, especially on the trade side) have chosen to do so at their own expense," he said.