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Perry in pole position on mileage expenses

Fine Gael's Minister of State for Small Business John Perry, the TD for Sligo-North Leitrim, has claimed €31,867 mileage allowance in the past year.

The figures came to light after Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins tabled a question in the Dail on expenses claimed by all ministers since March 2011.

Minister of State for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon, Galway East, claimed €22,763 for mileage and accommodation. And Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring, Mayo, claimed €22,691 for mileage in the 10 months to January 2012 -- €4,618.17 claimed for January 2012 alone.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter's expenses included €707.77 hotel expenses for a trip to the Lebanon in October 2011 to visit Irish UN troops. He spent two nights in the Lebanon, at just over €350 a night for his hotel costs.

Elsewhere Transport Minister Leo Varadkar spent €2,249.47 on three return economy flights from Dublin to Luxembourg in October 2011 for himself, his private secretary and his department's secretary-general at €750 for each return flight. The trip was to attend an EU Transport Council event.

Mr Varadkar also gave a breakdown of the €7,000 cost of his trip to India for St Patrick's Day 2011 which included €240 for gifts and €350 per room for the Minister and his private secretary.

The expenses exclude three members of the Cabinet who have retained a ministerial Mercedes and drivers -- the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and the Minister for Justice.

Other ministers use their own cars -- however, each is provided with two drivers at the taxpayers' expense. When they use their own cars, they are entitled to claim a mileage.

Sunday Independent