Officials will share apartment to cut cost of Qatar trip
SENIOR civil servants are sharing accommodation at an international conference on climate change being held in the Middle East.
Only Minister Phil Hogan will get an apartment to himself, while a team of 10 officials will share when they travel to Doha in Qatar.
Officials are sharing accommodation as part of efforts to keep costs down at the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change.
And while the accommodation is hardly sub-standard, the Department of the Environment has secured a special rate for officials and Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who flew there yesterday.
The group are flying economy at a cost of €500 each, and all are staying at the "lowest" level of accommodation available at the upmarket Kempinski hotel.
That means that officials are sharing two-bedroom apartments, with only Mr Hogan having a one-bedroom unit to himself.
A cut-price deal of €298 per two-room apartment has been secured, a small discount of €3 on the usual rate. But the officials won't lack comforts. The rooms boast a king-size bed, "luxurious" bath tub and shower and large plasma screen tvs.
Mr Hogan will be there until Monday week, meaning he will miss the Budget, where details of the property tax and hikes in motor tax – both of which fall under his department – will be revealed.
A spokesman said the Kempinski was chosen because the European Commission and EU Presidency were staying there, and it would be "useful" to be close to the EU delegation.
"As incoming EU Presidency, Ireland has a particular interest in the outcome of the Doha Conference of the Parties as it will fall to the Irish Presidency to lead the EU's follow-up work over the course of the first half of 2013," he said.
"In addition, Ireland is also involved in a large number of additional meetings in Doha, working with the current Presidency (Cyprus), Council Secretariat and Commission as they conduct bilateral engagements with key delegations from other parties.
"Departmental staff attending the conference are sharing what are, in effect, two-bedroom apartments, while the minister will stay in a one-bedroom unit.
"The total costs of accommodation for the minister and departmental staff are an average of €149 per night. The average cost of flights are €500 a head."