Sunday 28 May 2017

Taoiseach's wife's €3,600 bill for flights to US for St Patrick's Day

Fionnuala Kenny Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Fionnuala Kenny Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gordon Deegan

A spend of €3,602 on return flights for the Taoiseach's wife Fionnuala to Washington to allow her to join her husband for his St Patrick's Day swan song at the White House was part of a €101,000 Government global travel bill for the national holiday.

New figures provided by the Taoiseach's department show that the cost to the taxpayer of flying Enda Kenny, his wife, and his staff to the US for St Patrick's Day events, which included meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, totalled €33,555.

An entry in the Taoiseach's Foreign Travel Report for March shows that it cost the taxpayer €3,602 for return flights between Dublin and Washington for Mrs Kenny for St Patrick's Day events that included her husband meeting Mr Trump at the White House.

Mrs Kenny had travelled to the White House with her husband on previous St Patrick's Days to meet the Obamas.

It cost the taxpayer €6,842 to fly Mr Kenny for St Patrick's Day events in the US this year and this included flights from Dublin-Philadelphia-Boston-Washington-New York-Dublin from March 11 to March 17.

The Taoiseach's private secretary and chief of staff flew in similar comfort to the Taoiseach with their flights also costing €6,842 each.

However, the same flight itinerary for the Taoiseach's special adviser cost a much cheaper €1,627, while the same flights for the Government press secretary cost the taxpayer €1,587.

The €33,555 spend by the Taoiseach's department accounted for one-third of the Government's worldwide travel bill of €101,476.

In a series of Dáil written replies to questions by Sinn Féin Deputy John Brady, Government ministers have revealed their cumulative St Patrick's Day travel spend totalled €67,921 - and the final bill will be higher with a number of invoices yet to be processed.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar had the cheapest travel bill at €196, though the overall bill has yet to be finalised.

Irish Independent

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