Monday 23 October 2017

Taoiseach exempt from ministerial car levy

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny will escape a new charge for the "personal use" of a ministerial car which is set to cost his ministers up to €1,500 annually.

Senior and junior ministers will now have to deduct 10pc from their monthly mileage bills to take account of travel unrelated to government business.

Following a cutback, ministers now use their private cars with civilian drivers for work duties but claim overall monthly mileage rates without distinguishing between personal and private use.

However, Mr Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Justice Minister Alan Shatter are still provided with a state car and garda drivers for security reasons.

That exemption means all the costs are covered by the garda authorities.

A spokeswoman for Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said: "It relates to all ministers and ministers of state, excluding the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and the Minister for Justice. They don't make any claims, so there's no reduction."

Previously, all cabinet ministers had a state car and two garda drivers. Since the system was introduced last year, the annual cost has dropped by €4m.

The biggest saving has been in wages -- two civilian drivers can be hired for each minister at an annual cost of €70,000, whereas the cost of two garda drivers would be around €154,000.

And former Taoisigh no longer get state cars.

The gardai have also sold off 17 former ministerial cars this year but their mileage appears to have affected the price -- the total raised was just €44,448.

Under the new measure, which kicks in on September 1, ministers will have to calculate their mileage bill and deduct 10pc from the total.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin claimed €12,991 for mileage between May last year and March this year. And it would have cost Education Minister Ruairi Quinn €1,574 out of his claim of €15,745 for the same period.

Mr Quinn was at the centre of controversy earlier this year over his mileage claims to Roundstone in Galway, where he has a holiday home.

However, he insisted that he often had to interrupt his holidays to attend official functions and undertake government business.

Irish Independent

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