Environment Minister Phil Hogan and some of his departmental advisers clocked up bills of €133,000 jetting around the world – including €800 for a lunch in a Rio de Janeiro restaurant specialising in 'exotic birds and alligator'.
nvironment Minister Phil Hogan and some of his departmental advisers clocked up bills of €133,000 jetting around the world – including €800 for a lunch in a Rio de Janeiro restaurant specialising in 'exotic birds and alligator'.
Mr Hogan and his advisers have flown the equivalent of four-and-a-half times around the globe, staying in plush hotels and resting up between flights in airport business lounges, according to documents obtained by the Sunday Independent. As they visited far-off lands in a bid to help save the environment, it has been estimated that the CO2 emissions belched out by the flights are bigger than the entire output of an island with a population of 7,000 people.
Mr Hogan, who is fronting the introduction of the hated property tax, has been out of the country 31 times since becoming Environment Minister two years ago.
His travels for conferences and meetings on behalf of the Government have taken him to Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Durban in South Africa and Nairobi in Kenya, as well as New York, Paris and Rome.
"The minister and the department are very aware of the costs incurred due to business conducted abroad. These trips are undertaken as part of the normal business agenda of the department and the size of delegations (which, in the main, comprise officials of the department rather than advisers, as stated) and the costs are kept to an absolute minimum at all times," according to Mr Hogan's department.
"Economy flights are the norm and 95 per cent plus of these trips have been economy class," according to a department spokesman. "Trips abroad are kept to a minimum and the minister only travels abroad on official business. The need to keep carbon emissions to a minimum is always a priority."