| 5.8°C Dublin

Oh Ambassador, we're spoiling you - with plush €130m homes

IRELAND's diplomatic service has a portfolio of properties in foreign countries worth over €130m.

The properties are used by Irish diplomatic missions in countries as far flung as Argentina and Zambia.

The State owns ambassadors' residences or chanceries in 27 countries, with several properties in some countries including Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Most of the properties are valued at more than €1m – with one worth an astounding €45m.

However, just one one of the properties – the residence of the ambassador to Belgium – has been sold between 2011 and now.

The building sold for €2.2m in 2012 and the proceeds of the sale were paid into central funds.

Ireland's most expensive ambassador's residence – which is combined with a chancery – is in the swish Ave Foch, one of Paris's most expensive streets, just off the Arc de Triomphe.

BREATHTAKING

It was bought for €192,946 in 1954, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

It soared in value to a breathtaking €45m two years ago.

Our second most valuable property is the combined chancery and residence in Italy, the Villa Spada, worth almost €18.5m in 2011.

Three properties used by our diplomats in the US - in Washington and New York - have a combined value of €12m.

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty asked for details of the latest valuation of property assets owned by the State as part of foreign diplomatic missions, including embassies, consulates, chanceries and other diplomatic representation and residential property used by the State for its diplomatic activity.

He also asked for the euro valuation and the year of valuation.

A table provided in answer to Mr Doherty shows that the most valuable ambassador's residence owned by the State is the combined chancery/residence of the ambassador to France.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore announced in 2011 that the Government had decided to close Ireland's embassies to the Vatican and Iran, as well as its representative office in Timor Leste.

MISSIONS

THE DECISION FOLLOWED A REVIEW OF OVERSEAS MISSIONS CARRIED OUT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS WHICH GAVE "PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE ECONOMIC RETURN FROM BILATERAL MISSIONS".

Mr Gilmore said then that the Government was obliged to implement cuts to meet targets set out in the EU/IMF rescue programme.

He also said the Government would not be selling Villa Spada, the Irish embassy in the Vatican.

Instead, staff working the embassy to Italy in Rome, a rented premises, would be transferred to Villa Spada.

In the Dail this week, Mr Gilmore cautioned that the valuation figures "are subject to the price volatility of the current global property market".

The list of residences provided includes that of the ambassador to Australia, which is a combined chancery/residence valued at €3.4m in 2005.

The Australia deputy head of mission residence was valued at €642,000 in the same year.

In Brazil, the ambassador's residence was worth just over €1m in 2007, while in in Canada, the ambassador's residence was worth €2.2m in the same year.

The residence in Prague in the Czech Republic was worth €2m in 2005, while the Denmark residence was valued at €1.2m in the same year while the chancery in Denmark was worth €878,000.

In Ethiopia, Ireland's chancery was valued at €2.25m in 2010.

In Germany, the ambassador's residence was valued at €4m in 2005, while in Greece, the residence was worth €3.5m in the same year.

RESIDENCE

Other Irish assets abroad include residences or chanceries in Norway (€2.8m in 2005); Portugal (€1.6m in 2005); Saudi Arabia (€2.6m in 2005); Slovenia (€1.7m in 2006); and South Africa (€1.3m in 2008).

The Spanish property was worth €6m in 2005; Sweden (€2m in 2005); Switzerland (€2.5m in 2005); Tanzania chancery (€1.4m in 2005); Tanzania residence (€1.2m in 2005); Turkey (€954,000 in 2006).

We have three such properties in the US.

The Washington chancery was valued at €2.6m in 2005; the Washington residence was worth €4.1m in 2005 and the New York residence was valued at €5.7m in 2011.

mlavery@herald.ie


Privacy