O'Donoghue expenses revealed

 

Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue claimed over €200,000 in expenses over the past two years, it was revealed today.

Mr O’Donoghue, who last month apologised and admitted he was embarrassed by lavish expenses he ran up while minister for arts, sports and tourism minister, lodged all his claims since becoming Ceann Comhairle in the Dáil library today.

The move comes after months of high-profile media coverage of his expenses.

A total of €216,334 was claimed for expenses between June 2007 and June 2009, including about €89,000 on foreign travel.

On St Patrick’s Day 2008 and 2009, Mr O’Donoghue attended celebrations in Washington, Houston, New Orleans, Savannah and Charleston in the US at a cost of €27,074.

He also spent €13,227 on flights between his constituency in Kerry and Dublin and more than €124,800 was claimed for adverts in local Kerry newspapers, phone calls and secretarial services and miscellaneous expenses.

The cost of VIP lounges in Dublin and other airports such as Paris, Lisbon, Hong Kong and Singapore, totalled €4,461.

Mr O’Donoghue claimed €3,474 for gifts while abroad - a “proportion” of which were used on the official visit, according to his record.

More than €2,930 was spent on official entertainment, including €330 for a party of five at the Butte Chaillot bistro in Paris and €705 on a lunch in honour of Tourism Ireland and France Group.

In a statement from the Oireachtas, a spokesman repeated earlier claims from Mr O’Donoghue that his office should carry the same privileges as a Government minister.

“Similarly, items of expenditure including use of executive facilities or security are the customary courtesies that Ireland provides whenever it hosts an incoming parliamentary delegation,” the statement said.

“When the Ceann Comhairle travels abroad, it is normal that arrangements made are on the recommendation of the host, giving due regard to criteria such as security and proximity to the venues or to accommodate meetings.”