British flags for queen's visit cost State almost €500
It was neighbourly of Queen Elizabeth to learn the cúpla focal for her visit in 2011 so it seems only fair the Government should have done its best to make her feel at home with the purchase of almost €500 worth of British flags for the UK monarch’s visit.
Documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs under a Freedom of Information request show it paid €447.70 for “UK flags” on May 20th, 2011, the day Queen Elizabeth left Ireland, although the flags were bought ahead of the historic visit.
It also contains information on some of Ireland’s other high-profile visitors in the 18-month period between January 2011 and June 2012. The departmental expenses include costs relating to the visit of Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping at Dublin Castle in February, which ran to more than €20,000, while a dinner held in his honour at Bunratty Castle cost €8,324.
Transport during the visit of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in June totalled €1,844 while catering at Farmleigh for a reception for King Letsie III of Lesotho in May cost €3,521 and a separate entry for dinner for the king dated May 21st, 2012, cost €3,852.
Cost associated with the US president’s aircraft, Airforce One, and one supplier aircraft during Barack Obama’s visit in May 2011 cost €10,000 while other costs associated with the visit, including transport costs of an advance delegation, topped €13,000.
The records show the department spent more than €16,500 on gifts including €4,084 spent on 90 clocks as gifts for ministers attending the OSCE ministerial conference, which was chaired by Ireland this year.
Another entry refers to €665.50 spent on cufflinks for the department’s gift supplies.
A department spokeswoman said official and State entertainment played a productive and pivotal role in the promotion of a positive image of Ireland.
Other payments included more than €25,000 on photography; more than €50,000 on wine; almost €5,000 on flowers and €2,923 on flags (including the flags for the queen’s visit). All totals include department and Irish Aid-related costs.