Monday 25 September 2017

Facelifts for our embassies cost taxpayer more than €2m

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

More than €2m has been spent on refurbishment works at Irish embassy offices overseas, new figures reveal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed that substantial work has been carried out on eight separate offices since 2013, costing a combined total of €2.26m.

Two offices overseas - Beijing and Paris - had separate works carried out to improve their facilities during both years in question, 2013 and 2014.

Refurbishment of Ireland's embassy in the French capital cost a combined total of almost €917,000 - more than any other spend recorded. And more than €624,000 was spent on works on the embassy office in Beijing, according to information released to Independent TD Tommy Broughan.

A bill of €171,000 was received for renovating the embassy in Brussels last year, while six-figure sums were also spent on works at offices in Washington and Moscow.

The monies were spent on "major refurbishments, including major installation and enhancement of security measures", the department said.

No works have taken place to date in 2015.

The Irish Independent recently revealed that more than €44m was spent on operating Ireland's diplomatic network overseas, which includes 61 embassies, seven multi- lateral missions and 12 consulates.

The newly reopened embassy in the Vatican, which was closed amid controversy, cost just under €15,000 to run - the cheapest of all to operate.

The Coalition was strongly criticised after the closure of the office was announced by the then Foreign Affairs Minister and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in November 2011.

The decision to shut the office was seen in some quarters as a snub to the Catholic Church in the wake of a series of damning reports on the mishandling of clerical abuse.

Mr Gilmore said the closure of the Vatican embassy, as well offices in East Timor and Iran, were necessary cost-saving measures as a result of Ireland's EU/IMF bailout package.

Irish Independent

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