Tuesday 15 October 2019

€18m garda spend on Trump and Pence visits 'was worth it' - Varadkar

Trump and wife Melania head for Air Force One to depart Shannon. Photo: PA (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
Trump and wife Melania head for Air Force One to depart Shannon. Photo: PA (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted that Garda costs of up to €18m for the visits of US President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence are "worth it".

Commissioner Drew Harris revealed today that the cost of security, overtime and meals and accommodation for Gardaí for the two visits are set to come to between €15m and €18m.

Leo Varadkar and Donald Trump speak to the press at Shannon Airport.
Leo Varadkar and Donald Trump speak to the press at Shannon Airport.

He told a meeting of the Policing Authority that funds for visits like this aren't put aside at the start of the year.

The Garda Commissioner has been seeking to gain control of the organisation's overtime Budget since he was appointed.

Speaking during a trade mission in Los Angeles, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked about the costs and said "I think it was worth it".

He said: "Anytime a high profile figure whether it's Pope Francis or President Trump comes to Ireland, they're always welcome - and there are benefits for Ireland".

Mr Varadkar added: "We do appreciate that having two high profile visits this year has caused the Garda overtime bill to be higher than would have been projected."

He said: "it's not unusual for one very high profile visitor, maybe President Trump or Queen Elizabeth or the Pope to come.

"But the fact that there were two was unprecedented."

Mr Varadkar said: "the government is talking with the Department of Justice and the Gardai as to what we can do about that [the extra costs]."

US Vice President Mike Pence (centre), arrives in Doonbeg, Co Clare, where he stayed in a hotel owned by Donald Trump (Jacob King/PA)
US Vice President Mike Pence (centre), arrives in Doonbeg, Co Clare, where he stayed in a hotel owned by Donald Trump (Jacob King/PA)

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