Government spends €22,000 on Dublin airport VIP treatment for politicians
Mary Robinson, Maire Geoghegan Quinn and Bertie Ahern availed of service
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern moments after formally opening Dublin Airport's new Pier D boarding gate facility this morning, Today 12th November, 2007. Construction was on time and on budget. Dublin Airport, Dublin.
The Department of the Taoiseach incurred costs of more than €22,000 for the use of VIP facilities at Dublin Airport by former and current office holders in the second half of last year.
Former president Mary Robinson, European research commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern are the three people identified as having used the service in records released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
Ms Robinson, recently appointed UN special envoy for the Great Lakes region, was the most frequent user of the VIP service, with the department being billed for use of the facilities by her on 56 occasions during the period at a cost of some €12,985.
As a former president she is entitled to use the service. A spokesman said: “Mary Robinson did use the executive facilities at Dublin Airport in the manner that has been outlined. As has been acknowledged, Mrs Robinson was entitled to use these facilities, as a former holder of office in Ireland. ”
Ms Geoghegan Quinn, who works out of Brussels, used the service on 22 occasions during the period at a cost of some €5,654. A spokesman replied “no comment” when asked about her use of the facilities.
In the second half of last year, the department paid for the use of VIP facilities by Mr Ahern on eight occasions at a cost of €2,186.
The costs relating to Mr Ahern all occurred in 2011 but were only paid in the second half of 2012. The department no longer pays for VIP services for former taoisigh, having ceased the practice at the end of 2011.
According to the Dublin Airport Authority website, the VIP service is a “premier service, even if you’re flying economy”.
On arrival to Dublin, the website says, “we’ll be at your aircraft waiting to drive you to our VIP suite. We’ll assist you with the formalities of immigration and customs as quickly as possible and help with retrieving your baggage. It’s the perfect end to a busy trip or holiday.”
VIP airport costs related to the British-Irish Summit amounted to€3,400 and the use of VIP services by unspecified persons cost a further €1,800 during the second half of 2012.
The records also show that the average cost of catering for a Cabinet meeting during the period was less than €20, with Spar of Merrion Row among the suppliers.
The cost of catering for the National Day of Commemoration at Collins Barracks in July was considerably more expensive, with Brambles Deli Café Ltd receiving some €21,800 for their services.
The department spent some €10,500 on televisions and brackets in the period and more than €1,700 on cufflinks.