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Ministers roll up to cuts debate in Mercs

MINISTERS swept in to Government Buildings in their garda-driven state cars last night to discuss spending cuts as "mercs and perks" continue.

After next month, ministers will be travelling in their own cars driven by civilians as the Government looks to cut back on spending on the cost of transport.

The move is expected to save €4m per annum.

Under the overhaul of ministerial travel, senior and junior ministers, the Ceann Comhairle and Attorney General will now have to use their own personal cars or buy new cars out of their own pockets and hire civilian drivers.

Garda drivers and state cars will be retained only for the President, the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and the Justice Minister for security reasons.

Former Taoisigh and former presidents will lose their automatic right to an official car and garda driver. And it spells an end to the era of so-called "Mercs and perks".

Under the old system, a ministerial car cost around €280,000 per minister every year in salary costs, fuel and maintenance.

But the new system of employing a civilian driver to drive a minister's own car will cost around €120,000 for each minister. The costs could be higher if the mileage undertaken by some ministers is higher than expected.

Irish Independent