Sunday 21 October 2018

Fidelma Healy Eames to repay cost of Africa flights paid for by State

VOLUNTARY WORK: Senator Healy Eames meets Rwandan widows and orphans of that country's genocide
VOLUNTARY WORK: Senator Healy Eames meets Rwandan widows and orphans of that country's genocide

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

GALWAY senator Fidelma Healy-Eames is expected to reimburse the cost of flights to Africa for her husband, paid for by a state agency, within " a couple of weeks".

Ms Healy-Eames was invited to Rwanda by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Ireland, and her husband, Michael, has also gone on the trip.

The VSO also paid for the couple's flights to Kenya, where they are taking a hotel break at their own expense -- but the cost of these flights will be refunded to the VSO.

Ms Healy-Eames carried out the voluntary work as part of the 'Politicians for Development' programme and was advising a minister in Rwanda on early childhood education, while her husband gave business advice to an organic farm.

Ms Healy-Eames could not be contacted for comment last night but she told the 'Sunday Independent' she will "balance the books" on her return as part of an agreement reached with VSO prior to her trip.

Malcolm Quigley, of the VSO, also said this had been agreed. "We pay in advance and the spouse reimburses," he said. "We do this all the time."

Other politicians who have participated in the development programme include Leo Varadkar, junior minister Sean Sherlock, former Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews, Labour TD Dominic Hannigan, and Fianna Fail senator Mark Daly.

Confidentiality

Mr Quigley said one other politician previously brought their spouse but said "we were fully reimbursed".

"We have never had an incident where we had not been reimbursed for an accompanying spouse.

"Because of confidentiality issues we would have to get the permission of our volunteers before releasing any further details about them."

Irish Independent

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