Sunday 19 November 2017

Foreign Affairs splurges €1.2m of taxpayers’ money on taxis

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

AS the economy was collapsing in a heap, unemployment soared and standards of living plummeted, the Department of Foreign Affairs was still living it up.

The pampered government department — run by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin — until the election, spent a scandalous €1.2m of taxpayers’ money on taxis from January 2008 until this month.

That’s €855 per day, or more than any of the 470,000 unemployed people receive in dole for a whole month. The taxi bill would more than pay for the gold-plated pension of a top civil servant like Dermot McCarthy, who is in line for a €700,000 bonanza.

“My department’s current taxi policy provides that taxis may be used for official business only in cases when public transport is not available or feasible or when officers are required, because of work or official travel commitments to travel early in the morning or late at night either to or from HQ or to airports or train stations,” new Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said in a written reply to a parliamentary question from TD Shane Ross.

The spending covers taxis taken by civil servants at its Dublin headquarters as well as overseas operatives. The Department of Foreign Affairs was by far the largest spender of taxpayers’ money on taxis for its officials. It spent almost as much as nine other departments — ranging from justice to education — which splurged a combined €1.37m on private transport over the last four years. The Department of Education splashed out a hefty €237,000 on cabs over a fouryear period.

The Department of Finance has spent €10,710 since January, more than three times the outlay at Brendan Howlin’s cost-cutting Department of Public Expenditure.

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