Saturday 17 March 2018

Taxpayer paid €50k a month in rent for Irish Ambassador in Tokyo


Jane O'Faherty

The State paid as much as €50,000 a month in rent for the residence of Ireland's Ambassador to Japan.

The six-bedroom property where Ambassador Anne Barrington and her husband Ed Miliano lived in Tokyo cost around €600,000 a year until September 2015.

The current price for the residence now stands at €46,000 per month.

Details of the prices paid by the Department of Foreign Affairs were first revealed in an 'Irish Mail on Sunday' article last week.

In a statement, a spokesperson said that a rent review last year led to a drop in the "core rent" of the property.

"During the most recent negotiation the core rent (excluding parking facilities, etc) was reduced from 5,670,000 yen (€49,768) to 5,103,000 yen (€44,792)."

The spokesperson added that the final charge came to €46,220 once all bills were included.

It emerged that Department officials initially signed an upward-only rental agreement in 2001. This rent review mechanism ended in 2009, but officials would not say what the initial lease was signed at, or how much the monthly rent had risen to by that year.

The property is located at the Motoabazu Hills Forest Terrace East complex, and is currently the most expensive of Ireland's ambassadorial residences.

The 720 square metre residence is in a 29-storey apartment block, and is in one of Tokyo's wealthiest and most desirable neighbourhoods.

According to the Irish Embassy, 30 to 40 events are hosted in the premises each year.

It also houses a 302.22 square metre function area, a four-bedroom apartment where the Ambassador and her husband live, and two separate bedrooms for embassy staff. The complex features a wine cellar, a golf range, a roof garden and an on-site spa for tenants.

Ireland's Embassy in Tokyo is understood to be much smaller and more modest, with most official events being held at the Residence.

But the Department stressed that it continues to seek other accommodation options in Tokyo. "The Embassy has extensively explored the option of other office accommodation," it said. "This includes the prospect of combining the Chancery, space for functions and residential accommodation into a single location."

The Department previously said it was "actively engaged" in seeking alternatives to renting, as prices in the Japanese capital are high and continue to rise.

Ms Barrington says she is now considering making a complaint against the 'Irish Mail on Sunday', saying the article implied her husband, an artist, used the residence for business.

A spokesperson for the Department was unavailable for further comment when contacted by the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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