Taoiseach Leo Varadkar can stay in a State-owned lodge in Phoenix Park for as little as €50 per night.
The Irish Independent yesterday revealed Mr Varadkar and his partner Matthew Barrett had been staying in Steward's Lodge on the grounds of the Farmleigh estate during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two-storey Victorian house is available to taoisigh from the Office of Public Works (OPW) for just €50 per night.
In 2018, Mr Varadkar hosted two Christmas parties in the residence and he also reportedly held events there after the recent General Election.
Department of the Taoiseach records show Mr Varadkar paid the OPW €50 for each night he used the residence in 2018.
Mr Varadkar's spokesperson said security at the lodge was provided by gardaí who regularly protected the Taoiseach, while his department has provided IT and home office supports.
"There are no staff and no domestic services are provided. As has been the practice for many years, the Taoiseach pays a nightly fee for the use of the house," he added.
It emerged the Taoiseach was staying in Steward's Lodge after photographs were circulated on social media of Mr Varadkar and his friends having a picnic in Phoenix Park.
Last week, Department of the Taoiseach assistant secretary general Liz Canavan urged people not to have picnics during the first phase of the Government's plan to ease lockdown restrictions.
"If you're visiting a public amenity try not to stay too long at the site or have picnics. Please do your exercise and then go home," she said.
Yesterday, Ms Canavan declined to comment on the images of Mr Varadkar in Phoenix Park, saying she had not seen them.
Asked specifically if people should have picnics, the senior civil servant said she was offering "guidance" and "asking people to use their head".
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said phase one allowed up to four people not from the same household to meet outdoors provided they were physically distancing.
Mr Holohan said none of the pictures he saw of the Taoiseach were "in violation" of this.
Last night, the Taoiseach's spokesperson said Mr Varadkar: "Broke no laws, breached no regulations and observed public health guidance.
"Government guidelines allow people to spend time in the outdoors within 5km of their home, while continuing to observe social distancing and good hygiene. There are no specific Government guidelines on eating outdoors or picnics," he added.
It is unclear when he moved into the residence but his spokesperson said he had been staying at the lodge "during the Covid emergency".
Queries to the Department of the Taoiseach about when he began staying in Steward's Lodge went unanswered yesterday.
The lodge was purchased by the State in 1999 as part of the €29m Farmleigh estate deal.
Previous taoisigh, including Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, have also stayed there.
Around €600,000 was spent refurbishing it in 2005 when Fianna Fáil was in government, including €30,000 on landscaping.
In 2008, Mr Varadkar criticised the fact that the residence was not being used regularly.
"You can accommodate foreign dignitaries in the Shelbourne Hotel for a long time for that kind of money," he said.