Monday 19 March 2018

Decorating bill for embassies is €25m


The Department of Foreign Affairs spent €25.5m refurbishing the homes and residencies of our diplomats over the last three years, it has emerged.

The Sunday Independent previously revealed the millions of euro splashed out on an extension to the Ambassador's residence in Ottawa, Canada, and the €7m spend on the Irish diplomatic complex in the Hague.

Now, Fine Gael TD Billy Timmons has revealed that a further €10m has been spent on what he calls "a long-term pattern of fiscal frivolity" in the Department of Foreign Affairs. While the rest of the country was going into recession, "decorative works" at plush embassy buildings and residences increased by 20 per cent in 2009. The issue of excessive spending on overseas residencies was originally revealed in the Sunday Independent, with details of a 24,000sq ft "palace'' -- which included a gym, jacuzzis, and a lavish wine cellar -- for the Irish ambassador to Canada

However, we can now reveal that the final bill of €5.4m for the residency upgrade was €1m higher than the original estimate.

The figures also reveal that outside of the €7m spent on the Hague, €829,000 in New York, and €1.4m on the Irish Embassy in Rome, the department has engaged in several other lavish refurbishment.

It can also be revealed that last year over €1.1m was spent on the Brussels embassy and €939,000 on the consulate in Addis Ababa, Ethopia.

"It was astonishing that at a time when we were experiencing cut backs that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan admitted would cause riots in Europe, the Minister for Foreign Affairs was spending record amounts of money on fine furnishing for our diplomatic mandarins," said Mr Timmons yesterday. "Its now time to end the expenditure on jacuzzis and chandeliers and inject a note of sober reality to spending on embassies."

Sunday Independent

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