FG praises minister's embassy 'sleepover'
GOVERNMENT ministers ditched five-star hotels for free embassy rooms, and VIP cars for public transport on their recent St Patrick's Day junkets.
The vast turnaround in foreign travel and expenses has seen Fine Gael take the unusual move of "commending" their Fianna Fail rivals.
The praise comes after the initial round of figures from the 23 trips abroad.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's visit to Paris cost the taxpayer the modest sum of €182, according to new figures.
Mr Ahern stayed in the Irish embassy and used public transport or embassy vehicles for travel to official functions.
The cost of ministerial travel in previous years was more than €500,000 but that figure is thought to have been halved last year, and is likely to fall further this year.
According to initial figures from the Taoiseach's office, hotels in Chicago, Silicon Valley and Washington during his St Patrick's Day trip cost between €126 and €189 per night.
Other cabinet members, including Health Minister Mary Harney, failed to provide any expenses for their trips abroad.
Hitting back, Fine Gael TD Jim O'Keeffe said it was "not good enough" that only some ministers co-operated with his Dail request for an estimate on their costs.