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Coveney racks up a €27k bill for PR photos

SIMON Coveney has spent €27,500 of public money on photography since becoming Agriculture Minister, it has been revealed.

It comes in the wake of a row over €6,700 his department splashed out on a three-day photoshoot at the National Ploughing Championships.



New figures provided to Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen show Mr Coveney racked up a €27,548 bill on photography since March this year.

He also spent €269,451 on advertising and €2,924 on printing costs.

Mr Cowen, his party's spokesman on social protection, said he sought the data so it could be compared to the spend from previous years.

The Laois-Offaly TD said that he wants to see "if there has been any variation" in relation to the costs.

"I thought we would get the figures and compare them to other departments and other years," he told the Herald, adding that they have yet to collate all of the information.

However, on the face of it, the amount spent by Mr Coveney "appears to be a lot" he said.

No comment was received at the time of writing from the Department of Agriculture.

Earlier this month, Mr Coveney said he would investigate why the cash was spent on a photoshoot at the Ploughing Championships.

The photographs, taken by Fennell Photography, showed Mr Coveney and junior agriculture minister Shane McEntee throughout the event.



Profile

When asked about the snaps, Mr Coveney said: "The honest answer is I don't have all the details.

"It does seem like a lot was spent and I am a little bit taken aback.

"Obviously, we need to make sure that any money spent on PR or photography represents value for money and if, when I follow it up, it turns out that we overspent, it won't happen again."

He pointed out the Ploughing Championships were the most important agriculture event of the year.

"In terms of profile raising for the agri-food sector, it's the biggest event of the year and lots of the bodies represented at it wanted pictures taken and for those pictures to be sent on to them," Mr Coveney said.

"I don't sign off on all expenditure in the department but I do have responsibility for expenditure and I have no problem sitting down and seeing why the photographs at the Ploughing Championships cost what they did and if it could have been done for less," he added.

comurphy@herald.ie


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