| 16.8°C Dublin

End of the road for Bertie's €150k Merc?

THE Cabinet is expected to discuss the controversy surrounding the provision of State cars to ministers.

Green ministers are believed to be preparing to raise the issue, after it was highlighted last week by the Herald.

There was also public outrage at the sight of members of the Government rolling up to Farmleigh House last Monday in their chauffeur-driven cars.

The 27 State cars being funded by taxpayers cost the exchequer about €11m a year.

Green Party leader John Gormley has indicated he is in favour of a car pool system.

At the moment, 19 Government members and five former taoisigh have a dedicated car and driver, while the perk is also enjoyed by the President, the Chief Justice and the DPP.

Paul Gogarty, the Greens education spokesman, told the Dail the Government needs to "scrap the ministerial Mercs as soon as possible".

He said the garda drivers need to be reallocated "back into working on the ground" and "a pool of junior ministerial drivers" has to be created.

Mr Gogarty said he accepted ministers "need to work while travelling and they cannot be driving".


"It appalled me to see ministers driving into Farmleigh in their Mercs, as it sent out the wrong message," he said.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore is also in favour of a pooling system and he believes less expensive cars should be purchased.

The Herald revealed last week that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will not give up his luxury Mercedes, even though he accepts the country is broke. He insisted he needs the plush S Class model for "security reasons".

A survey of each Department by this paper found that ministers are not willing to lose their Mercs.