Taoiseach's department posts expenses of €3.5m in first six months
Department spent over €50,000 on flights in first half of year, hotel costs reach €190,000
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s department spent ¤3.5 million in non-salary expenditure in the six-month period from January 1st to June 30th this year.
The Department of the Taoiseach spent more than €50,000 on foreign air travel in the first six months of 2013 including almost €20,000 in flights connected with Ireland’s chairing of the EU presidency.
The overall cost of flights included more than €13,000 for flights for Government Chief Whip and Minister of State Paul Kehoe and his private secretary, who travelled to a number of cities in Australia and to Auckland, New Zealand, around St Patrick’s Day.
This included a one-way business-class flight for Mr Kehoe from Brisbane to Dublin on March 22nd at a cost of €4,346 and two outbound business-class flights to Perth on March 7th costing €2,211 each.
Asked about the department’s policy on the use of business-class flights, a spokesman said its position was that any flight under seven hours must be economy class.
St Patrick’s Day
The spending data, which was released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows that the department paid for a one-way flight for Enda Kenny’s wife, Fionnuala, on March 21st at a cost of €570.
Ms Kenny initially travelled to the US with her husband on the Government jet ahead of a number of engagements to mark St Patrick’s Day.
The spokesman said the department had covered the cost of the flight because Ms Kenny had been in the US in an official capacity having been invited to attend a number of events with the Taoiseach.
Gifts for the US St Patrick’s Day trip totalled €800 including €300 spent on a crystal bowl custom made by Sean Egan in which the traditional gift of shamrocks to mark St Patrick’s Day were presented to US president Barack Obama on March 19th.
The department’s total spend on gifts in the six-month period came to more than €7,000 including €3,616 on gifts for the heads of the delegations who attended an informal meeting of EU ministers on January 20th and 21st.
Other costs included €3,500 for the use of the VIP lounge in Dublin airport run up by former president Mary Robinson and EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn.
Hotel costs in the six-month period ran to €190,000 including hotel costs associated with the EU presidency
A significant proportion of this related to the hiring of conference facilities and accommodation costs associated with four meetings of the Constitutional Convention.
The costs associated with four weekend-long meetings of the convention, a forum of 100 people asked to consider and make recommendations as possible future amendments to the Constitution, resulted in hotel costs of more than €132,000.
The total spend by the department on the Constitutional Convention reached €185,056.
The largest individual payments made by the Department of the Taoiseach in the time period were grant payments of €480,000 and €380,000 made to the National Economic and Social Development Office, which advises the Taoiseach on strategic matters relevant to the economic and social development of the State.
The spending data provides a line-by-line breakdown of €3.5 million in non-salary expenditure by the Department of the Taoiseach in the six-month period from January 1st to June 30th this year.