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Spending watchdog orders probe into cost of own office

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Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness

Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness

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Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness

The Dail's spending watchdog is going to investigate the €250,000 spent refurbishing the office of its own chairman – Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness.

And it will also look into whether there was "lavish spending" on the renovation of offices of former Fianna Fail ministers and senior civil servants during the Celtic Tiger era.

It came after the Irish Independent revealed the extent of the spending on the office of Mr McGuinness, when he was Junior Minister for Trade in the previous government in 2007.

There was a specification that only luxury toilet roll could be used in the en suite bathroom for his office.

And the plan also included a "concealed door" to his ministerial toilet hidden in wood panelling.

At the Public Accounts committee, Mr McGuinness agreed to set up an investigation into the spending on his former office in the Department of Jobs in Dublin.

"I have nothing to hide and I want the whole thing investigated," he said.

Mr McGuinness backed requests from committee members to extend the investigation into the cost of office refurbishments for other ministers and senior civil servants.

Mr McGuinness insisted that the refurbishment of his office was carried out by the Office of Public Works with no input from him.

"At no stage did I have any involvement in designing or asking for particular furniture or whatever. If I had known it was going to cost that money, I would have stopped it," he said.

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris welcomed the willingness of Mr McGuinness to begin an investigation but said it would be unfair to single him out without looking at the full picture.

"We need to get to the bottom of whether there was a culture of lavish spending on ministerial offices during the boom years," he said.

It emerged previously that the Office of Public Works spent €200,000 on renovating and fitting out a new Dail office for former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern after he went back to being a backbench TD in 2008.

Irish Independent