Irish Embassy in China spends €11k on garden furniture
The Irish Embassy in China spent over €624,000 on upgrade works over the last two years, which included over €80,000 ahead of the state visit by President Michael D Higgins last December.
According to figures released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the embassy in Beijing paid out €82,421 during a 21-day spending spree in the lead-up to the week-long visit by Mr Higgins to China.
The items, purchased from November 12 to December 3, ranged from new rugs and doors to a presidential podium costing €1,580; just over €1,000 on the restoration of an antique table; new blinds; and the mounting of works of art. The embassy also spent €4,303 on 'deep cleaning' ahead of the state visit.
The spending spree contributed to upgrade costs at the embassy soaring by 41pc, from €258,931 in 2013 to €365,287 in 2014. The spend over the 21 days represented 27pc of the 2014 outlay.
Ahead of Mr Higgins's visit, the embassy spent €1,497 on the 'framing and mounting of art' and €15,663 on the replacement of doors.
The embassy spent another €3,523 on rugs on November 12 with an additional €3,518 spent on rugs on December 17.
The embassy also carried out upgrade works of the staff quarters costing €82,421. This was in order to comply with health and safety regulations.
According to the figures, which were released in response to a Freedom of Information request, the embassy spent almost €11,000 on garden and terrace furniture. This included armchairs, a dining table and eight chairs and a table and four stools.
The embassy also spent a further €1,000 on 15 vases in December 2013, while in February 2014 it spent €3,287 on linen and towels for the embassy's residence.
A spokeswoman for the department said the embassy was built in the early 1950s and "in the 15 years or so prior to 2013, the buildings had seen only minimal, periodic maintenance".
She said: "As a consequence of wear and tear over many years in the demanding climate and atmospheric conditions of Beijing, they needed extensive refurbishment to make them fit for purpose."