Monday 22 January 2018

Greek crisis talks cost the taxpayer more than €200,000

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Taxpayers have forked out more than €200,000 this year to fly the Taoiseach and Finance Minister to EU meetings on the Greek crisis.

Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan have attended 17 meetings so far this year, with the majority of the costs racked up through use of the Government jet.

The Department of Defence is responsible for use of the Government jet and has confirmed to the Irish Independent that it was used for all but two of the trips for EU meetings on the Greek crisis.

While the department has not confirmed the cost of the flights that were taken in July, this newspaper understands that when accommodation is taken into consideration the figure passes €200,000.

Up until the end of June, use of the government jet for Greek talks totalled €167,135.67.

However, the department has confirmed that the plane was also used on four dates this month for travel to Brussels by the minister or the Taoiseach.

The minimum cost for such travel to Brussels on these dates comes in at more than €29,000, bringing the total cost of flights to at least €196,775.67.

More than 20 bed nights were required at The Renaissance Hotel, Brussels, for the ministers and staff at the talks at a minimum cost of €180 per night.

A government spokesman said that the expense was justifiable.

"Attending European Council meetings was an essential part of the Government's strategy to rebuild our international reputation in the wake of the bailout," he said.

"Attendance at European Council meetings and their margins also allows the Taoiseach and all ministers to discuss with their European counterparts a variety of issues," the spokesman added.

Irish Independent

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