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The €35,000 patio and €6,500 rugs at our embassies around the world

 

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Through the roof: €2.16m was spent on London embassy

Through the roof: €2.16m was spent on London embassy

Through the roof: €2.16m was spent on London embassy

A new patio costing €35,000, engraved harp logos for embassy buildings at €1,250 a piece, designer rugs worth €6,512 and €133,000 in business class flights were among the items billed to the taxpayer by the Department of Foreign Affairs last year.

The rent bill at the ambassador's residence in Tokyo also shot up to €49,237 for the month of December - the most expensive of all the homes leased by the department - according to a database of spending released under Freedom of Information.

It details more than €68m in Department of Foreign Affairs spending on items costing in excess of €5,000 from 2019.

The department spent close to €5.36m on what was described as "major maintenance" at embassies, residences, headquarters and other offices.

This included €35,000 on a patio for the new residence in Washington DC. The bill was made up of a "flag-stone dry-set option" costing just over €21,000 and an LED lighting system for €3,134.

The department said this project involved "improvements to the outdoor event area for use for engagements with key interlocutors in Washington".

Costs continued to mount with the replacement of the roof of the embassy in London, where more than £1.9m (€2.16m) has been spent on a restoration project.

The roof repair project at the Belgravia property has involved rectifying structural defects and the removal of asbestos.

"Significant additional variations have been required to facilitate the completion of this project such that a water-tight, safe and compliant project could be delivered," said the department.

Other invoices released under FoI detail spending of €15,375 on 20 "escutcheons" to adorn the outside of embassies around the world.

These consist of golden harps on a blue background with each of them costing €1,250.

The department paid out €20,882 for five rugs for the embassy in London. Purchased from Ceadogán Rugmakers, the most expensive of them - items entitled Mainie Jellett No 4 and Mainie Jellett No 3 - cost €6,512 each.

The rugs were part of €119,136 that was spent on "items of artistic value" in 2019, according to the database.

A total of €5.19m in spending was listed for residences for ambassadors and other senior diplomatic staff right across the globe.

Costly residential bills included around €17,000 a month for a property in Singapore and €12,715 a month in the capital of Finland, Helsinki. From the new diplomatic missions which opened last year, the department is also paying out €6,314 a month for a residence in Santiago, Chile.

Irish Independent