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Maire avails of our generosity as we brave the full force of austerity

IT must be nice to be able to use the VIP facilities, fast-tracking your way through the airport, getting assistance from staff on hand to cater to your specific needs.

No queueing up with the rabble, to whom you can give the royal wave as you pass by.

Nice, too, when the taxpayer foots the bill.

At a time when the European Union is going through the greatest crisis of its existence, those in positions of responsibility need to show some leadership.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has spoken broadly about bringing about an end to austerity because it has reached its limits.

"A policy, to be successful, not only has to be properly designed, it has to have a minimum of political and social support," he said in recent weeks.

The European Commission appears to be saying it feels the pain of the people. What message then does it send out when a country in a bailout is still picking up the tab of the airport VIP treatment whenever the country's commissioner comes 'home'.

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn has signalled she has no intention of giving up the perk, unless the Government takes it away.

Despite being on a salary of €248,004 as well as travel and entertainment expenses, she continues to avail of the taxpayers' generosity in paying for use of the VIP facilities at Dublin Airport.

In the second half of last year, she used the perk 22 times at a cost of over €5,500 to the taxpayer.

Ireland's European Commissioner hasn't exactly got a record of showing solidarity with the people of the country she represents – as evidenced by the debacle over her pension.

Three years ago, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn was forced into a climbdown on taking her €108,000 a year ministerial and TD pension.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn abandoned her stance of refusing to even discuss the matter and finally announced she would forego her ministerial and TD pension rights while she is earning nearly €250,000 a year as Ireland's representative in Brussels.

The move came after a series of utterances from Cabinet ministers at the time, dropping less than subtle hints about pensions being for those who are retired.

Again, leadership wouldn't go astray in this case either.

Irish Independent