Ministers’ transport costs reached almost €5m last year
Figures relate to cost of drivers and mileage for ministers, ministers of state, President, Chief Justice and DPP
Garda driver Gerry Buttner fixes the Tricolour to the presidential car. Photograph: Frank Miller
The cost of the provision of drivers and mileage to Government Ministers, the President and other office holders reached €4.9 million last year, according to figures revealed during a series of Dáil questions.
The information was revealed in a series of questions posed by Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming. The average cost of providing drivers and mileage to 27 Ministers and Ministers of State last year came to just over €99,690, or a total cost of €2.7 million.
That figure excludes the cost of transport for three Cabinet members – the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter – who are provided with Garda drivers and State cars paid for from the Garda budget. The provision of office holder transport for the three Cabinet members – the President, the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions – came to a further €2.2 million in 2012.
Last year marked the first full-year costs for ministerial transport since the Government restricted the use of State cars in May 2011. After this time Cabinet Ministers, the Ceann Comhairle and the Attorney General, were required to use their own cars instead of using State vehicles.
Prior to this each Minister was provided with a State car and two Garda drivers.
Although it was previously the case that former taoisigh and presidents were provided with a car and Garda driver for life, new arrangements for former office holders introduced in June 2011 mean they are now supplied with official transport only for significant State occasions.
The average cost of providing Garda drivers for Ministers, as distinct from Ministers of State, fell from about €280,000 in 2010 to €100,000 last year, a saving of about €2.16 million.
The highest transport costs per individual related to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with an average cost of €126,414 each for the Minister, Jimmy Deenihan, who lives in Kerry, and Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley, who lives in Donegal. Transport costs relating to Minister of Finance Michael Noonan were just under €124,000 last year.
Travel costs for the Department of Health reached almost a quarter of a million euro, the bulk of which related to costs for the Minister for Health, James Reilly, and Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Kathleen Lynch, whose travel costs came to €118,000 and €107,000 respectively.
Driver costs for Paul Kehoe met by the Department of Defence came to €101,285. While his related mileage and car expenses are met by the Department of the Taoiseach, travel costs relating to that department, other than those under the Garda vote, were not available.