'Ming' insists Morocco trip 'not a glorified holiday'
LUKE 'Ming' Flanagan has defended his decision to sign himself as present in the Dail while on an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco – insisting it was not a "glorified holiday".
The controversial TD was one of only two politicians who asked for the Dail records to be changed to mark themselves as present while on the trip.
Fine Gael Senator Imelda Henry also asked for the days to be reconciled.
Other members of the cross-party delegation, including Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke, Fine Gael's John O'Mahony and Labour's John Lyons did not do so.
Mr Flanagan insisted he reconciled the days because it had been a working trip.
"When I was initially going out there I have to say I was very, very sceptical as to what was the purpose of it," he said.
"Was it a junket, was it some sort of glorified holiday? As it turns out it was not.
"We were in constant meetings, meeting people, talking to the leader of the opposition, talking to the people in government and talking to various different arms of the state, so we were working the whole time we were there," he told Galway Bay FM.
"I was working as far as I'm concerned. I was on official duties," he added.
The Independent TD also said: "We were given a form out there to look for further expenses. I handed it back to them and said: 'What is this about, do we not get well enough paid already?'
"We did not need any more. In fact, we get too much already and that's why I give away half of my salary every month."
Mr Flanagan said the hotel rooms had been paid for, along with one meal with a political representative, but that other costs incurred were not covered.
"The hotel rooms were paid for by the Moroccan government and we did have a meal with the head of the equivalent of the senate. But after that I purchased all my own meals, I paid for whatever – my car parking on way to the airport and all that sort of stuff, and so I should."
Speaking on the Keith Finnegan Show, the TD also criticised the number of politicians who went on the trip.
"I actually think maybe too many went on the trip. I was the only member of the opposition, maybe if there was one less government member it would have made a lot of sense," he claimed.