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Minister of Cuts spends €900k on his office cleaners

HE'S cutting everyone else's budget -- but sometimes it's the things right under your nose that you miss.

It appears Minister Brendan Howlin has never wondered how his offices are kept so pristine.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform admitted he was not aware of the €900,000 cleaning bill until it was drawn to his attention.

He has now ordered a review of the taxpayer-funded tab for hiring contract cleaners.

The issue was raised by Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance by way of a Dail question.

They revealed that the Department of Finance spent €203,556 on contract cleaners and that the Office of Public Works splashed out €704,918.90.

Both deputies questioned whether it would be cheaper to hire the workers directly, rather than through a third party.

However, Mr Howlin said the cost had not been brought to his attention in the review of spending. "I will ask both the Department of Finance and the Office of Public Works to examine the costing and to come back to me with their views," he said.

Mr Howlin led a major review of spending across all Government departments in a move to significantly reduce costs.

The OPW is responsible for the maintenance and management of State-owned buildings, amounting to hundreds of properties.


It has been at the centre of spending controversies in the past, most notably when the organisation splashed out €220,000 on renovating a plush new Dail office for Bertie Ahern.

The OPW spent the money on cleaning and renovating the rooms and kitting them out with furniture.

Mr Ahern had to vacate his previous office in Government Buildings on stepping down as Taoiseach in May, 2008.

The OPW defended the bill, saying it cost the market rate at the time.