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Friday 26 May 2017

O Cuiv's chopper trip costs taxpayer €10,000

Aidan O'Connor

Community and Gaeltacht Minister Eamon O Cuiv was in flying form yesterday as he arrived at a Cork gaeltacht in an Air Corps helicopter trip that cost the taxpayer €10,000 -- despite his own department facing closure.

An Bord Snip Nua recommends €5bn in cuts to government spending and many of Mr O Cuiv's gaeltacht and rural grants are also facing the axe.

But Mr O Cuiv arrived at Muskerry Gaeltacht to open the Ballingeary playground in a helicopter paid for by the Government -- and ultimately the taxpayer.

Mr O Cuiv bluntly refused to comment on the proposed abolition of his department. He said: "You can ask me the question as many times as you like but I am not going to comment on specifics of the report."

Mr O Cuiv also stressed that it was now time for everyone to "think of Ireland" in the drive to rectify the public finances.

The Bord Snip report, published on Thursday, recommends that Mr O Cuiv's department be shut down with only some of its functions being moved to other areas.

The Government would save €150m on a department that is costing €470m a year, and 196 jobs would be shed.

But what could be in store did not deter Mr O Cuiv and three senior officials from flying in the most expensive Air Corps helicopter available to the Government.

The AW-139 took them from work to the Muskerry Gaeltacht, and from there to the Bere and Cape Clear Islands before returning to Dublin.

The helicopter takes to the sky at an average hourly rate of €3,130 and spent three hours in the air yesterday.

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