Too many miles on clock for President
Published 24/05/2015 | 02:30
With unemployment on the way down and the sale of luxury cars on the way up, one could be forgiven for thinking we were well along our way on the road to recovery.
Try telling that to President Michael D Higgins, however. These days, he's more likely to be found standing on the hard shoulder waiting on a recovery vehicle to tow him home to the Aras.
For while the nation's moneyed elite are back behind the wheels of brand new Range Rovers, BMWs and Porsches, our unfortunate head of state is still being ferried around in the back of a nine-year-old Mercedes S Class with even more miles on the clock than he has.
This despite the fact that gardai advised the Aras in writing over a year ago that the President's car, with nearly 300,000km on its odometer, was "no longer fit for purpose" and needed to be replaced as a matter of urgency.
Since then, the 06-registered limousine, and indeed another state car used by Mr Higgins and his wife, Sabina, have both suffered breakdowns, necessitating the leasing of a replacement car which it is understood was used on just one occasion before being returned.
Notwithstanding the clear urgency of the situation, the Sunday Independent understands from an informed source that the process of finding a permanent replacement car for the President has yet to be concluded.
The source denied claims that Mr Higgins had made any demands for a 'new' car, saying that the matter was "being driven, no pun intended, by gardai".
"There is no question that the President made any demand for a new car. He's quite happy to accept whatever model the gardai believe to be suitable," the source added.
The issue of the President's transport has been the subject of some controversy in recent days following the publication of a report which suggested that while he had taken delivery of a brand new Mercedes, he had sent it back with a demand that it be replaced with a "superior model" worth some €40,000 more.
Responding to those claims last Thursday, gardai issued a statement saying: "An Garda Siochana does not comment on the security arrangements relating to the President. However, we would like to clarify that the transport provided to the President is a matter solely for An Garda Siochana. Contrary to what was incorrectly stated in the article, at no stage did the President request a new car."