Wednesday 24 January 2018

Government under fire over TD's €5,900 flight for Dail vote

AINE KERR

THE Government's decision to dispatch a jet to fly home a junior minister for a Dail vote -- at taxpayers' expense -- shows how much it has now "lost touch" with the public.

Fine Gael's Michael Ring made the claim after junior minister Billy Kelleher was flown home from London on the government jet, ahead of Tuesday's night's crucial vote on the cabinet reshuffle.

The bill to the taxpayer for use of the jet comes to some €5,900 after its use was sanctioned by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The junior minister, who had been in Australia for the St Patrick's Day festivities and trade events, arrived in London's Heathrow on Tuesday afternoon.

However, his connecting flight back to Dublin would not have had him back in time for the Dail vote.

Amid fears the vote on the reshuffle could be tight and with Fine Gael withdrawing all voting arrangements, the jet was sent to London.

In the end, however, the Government comfortably won the vote with a margin of 83 votes to the opposition's 75.

"Arrangements should have been made that he was back for the Dail sitting," Mr Ring said.

"Again, it just shows how they've really lost touch with the people. They don't realise the anger out there."

But Mr Kelleher blamed FG for cancelling, at short notice, traditional Dail voting arrangements.

"I was on official business abroad. I was officially paired in the Dail and then when I landed in London, I was informed the pairing had been withdrawn and I had to come home on the government plane," said Mr Kelleher.

Irish Independent

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