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Friday 19 September 2014

Ministers 'don't want to lose the plot' and loosen purse strings for a new jet

Lise Hand and Tom Brady

Published 03/09/2014 | 02:30

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The Government jet.
The Government jet.

The Government "is not going to lose the run of itself" when making a decision on the fate of its jet which is grounded in the US, the Taoiseach has said.

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The coalition is faced with the prospect of either paying substantial costs to repair the 23-year-old Gulfstream IV or replacing it at a cost of millions to the taxpayer.

However Enda Kenny insisted that the recent pick-up in the Irish economy is no excuse for the Government to splash out on the high-flyers' perk "and give outright opportunity for people to say, 'well they've really lost it this time'". The Taoiseach said that the jet, one of two planes used for ministerial travel, is required to undergo routine maintenance every year at a cost of around €500,000.

In light of problems being discovered at the aerodrome in Georgia in the United States, he added that he has requested a report from the Minister for Defence outlining the options available.

Condition

"I've asked the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to bring me a report on the options that are open to government, taking into account the condition and the state of the Gulfstream jet, and also of the fact that we have the smaller Learjet available to us," he said.

"Last year during the presidency, there were 3,000 meetings during that period, so the original concept of having two jets was in respect of the presidency when there were multiple requirements," Mr Kenny said.

Mr Coveney told the Irish Independent that he intends to bring that report to the Cabinet today when it meets for the first time since the summer recess.

However, he declined to elaborate on what he had in mind until he had briefed the government.

Irish Independent

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