Friday 23 March 2018

Irish embassies abroad valued in excess of €90m

Paris proves to be the jewel in the crown, with 18th century building on Avenue Foch now worth €45m

Paris. Photo: PA
Paris. Photo: PA
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

From the heart of Athens to the famed Jaegerstrasse in Berlin's embassy belt, the Irish Diplomatic Corps now occupy some of the world's most exclusive addresses - with price tags to match, new documents reveal.

The value of the nation's international property empire in the hands of the Department of Foreign Affairs has now soared to over €90m.

It shows that the mandarins at Iveagh House have an eye for a bargain and have lived by the old property hunters' maxim - location, location, location.

The jewel in the crown is our prestige embassy in Paris - bought for a modest €192,000 in 1954 - and now worth a cool €45m.

Our diplomatic residence in Washington, purchased for €130,000 in 1964, has in the last 50 years zoomed in value to €4.3m.

A residence in Madrid, which was bought the same year for €53,000, is now valued at almost €6.2m.

The most valuable foreign property owned by the diplomatic service is in Paris - and tasteful and costly revamps over the years have only added to its cachet.

The embassy on the prestigious Avenue Foch, was built in the 1890s and was purchased by the Irish government in 1954 - the year of a general election which led to a coalition government of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan.

Liam Cosgrave, later Taoiseach, was Minister for External Affairs from June of that year.

In 2006, the reception rooms of the chancery underwent extensive renovations.

Meanwhile, Ireland's diplomatic residence in Argentina's Buenos Aires, has doubled in value since it was purchased in 1997.

Initially costing €723,300, most recent estimates say it is now worth over €1.5m.

Documents obtained by the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information request also reveals that 17 of our 80 missions abroad employ full-time chefs or cooks, including embassies in Paris, Washington, London, Beijing and Warsaw.

But the department points out that full-time staff of this nature also carry out various other duties.

And spending on furniture and household items in various parts of the world is also carefully tracked, including new chairs purchased from IKEA for our offices in Geneva which cost €980.

Meanwhile, a bullet-proof VXR 5.7L Toyota Land Cruiser costing €124,500 and a Yamaha motorbike worth a mere €2,000 are among a fleet of vehicles to help our ambassadors fly the flag for Ireland.

The sum of €124,500 was spent in 2014 on what is described as "an armoured vehicle'' for our embassy in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Among the more expensive cars purchased for our foreign diplomats in 2015 was a Mercedes E Class for our ambassador in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, which cost €59,000.

Sunday Independent

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