TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has defended the Government's spend of €70,000 on fine wines to replenish the cellars of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Just one day after taking the monthly €200 mobility allowance from disabled people, it emerged that the Government had bought €77,000 worth of vino, including 24 bottles of Chateau Lynch Bages at a princely €79 a bottle.
The department said it needed to replenish stocks ahead of the EU Presidency after VIP visits by Queen Elizabeth and President Obama.
Mr Varadkar said "the Government needs to be very sensitive about what we do and how we spend money". But he added: "At the same time, the European Presidency is a real opportunity for Ireland.
"It is important we treat visiting delegates in a way we would expect to be treated, particularly if we want them to make concessions to Ireland that are worth billions of euros."