President's €50k bill for Government jet
President Michael D Higgins spent almost €50,000 on Government jet journeys in the first three months of this year.
The Office of the President last week released details of Mr Higgins's use of the State-owned Learjet for the first time. The information was released after this newspaper reported the €30m cost of the Office since Mr Higgins was elected seven years ago. He has used the private jet to travel to London, Belfast, Athens and Kerry this year.
The total flight time for all of these journeys is 13 hours. The hourly cost of flying the Learjet is estimated by the Department of Defence to be €3,780 per hour, meaning the total cost of the President's jet bill comes to €49,140.
Since taking office, the President has made nine State visits and 40 official visits, according to his spokesperson. The Government jet was not used on all of these occasions.
Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell said all Government jet journeys by the president should be declared publicly. He also called for the Office of the President to be covered by Freedom of Information legislation.
"The public have a right to know how public money is being spent and I do not understand why the presidency is not subject to Freedom of Information laws," he said.