Ministers stripped of garda drivers
Published 15/03/2011 | 16:43
Cabinet ministers are to lose their garda drivers under radical changes to official Government transport.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, President Mary McAleese, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore and Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter will retain the perk of power for security reasons.
But from May 1 the other 12 ministers and Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett will be forced to supply their own vehicles and have civilian drivers hired, as has been the case with junior ministers.
And from June, former taoisigh and presidents will also lose the trappings of power except for important state occasions after the Cabinet signed-off on the cost-cutting plans.
Both Fine Gael and Labour pledged in the programme for government to halve the cost of the transport fleet and free up garda drivers to return to front-line duty.
The cost of running state cars for the last two years has totalled 11 million euro.
The Chief Justice John L Murray and the Director of Public Prosecutions Director James Hamilton will also retain their state vehicle.
In addition to transport cuts the staffing of ministers' private offices will be cut from 10 to eight and from six to four in constituency offices. Junior ministers will have staff cut from seven to five in private offices and five to three in constituency offices.
"The combination of these measures will make a significant impact on the cost of Government and reflects the determination of the Government to establish a momentum for political reform," a government statement said.
The outgoing Fianna Fail-Green government revealed it was scaling back the trappings of power when Budget 2011 was unveiled last December.
The then Government faced a backlash from the public after ministers were seen driving into a Budget Cabinet meeting at the lush Farmleigh estate in separate sleek cars last October.