Transport for State officials and ministers costs €7.2m
TRANSPORT COSTS for the Cabinet, Ministers of State and other office holders including the President, Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions amounted to just over €7.2 million, according to Government statistics.
The expenditure including cars, drivers and mileage allowances totalled just under €2.6 million in the past year for 12 members of Cabinet and the 15 Ministers of State.
The cost for the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister for Justice and a number of other State office holders in the period since February 2011 was a further €4.6 million. This is just under €3 million less than when the old transport arrangements applied.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said records of costs for office holders who have a Ministerial car and Garda drivers “have not been maintained in a manner which would allow for the identification of costs associated with individual office holders”.
However, he said the Garda authorities had indicated the cost from February last year to March this year was €4,626,296. Mr Shatter said that in 2010 under the old transport system, officer holder expenditure amounted to €7.5 million, and “significant savings have been achieved”.
Under the old system a car and Garda drivers were provided to more than 20 office holders including the entire 15 member-Cabinet, all former taoisigh and presidents and the Government Chief Whip.
Office holders including the President, Chief Justice, Attorney General, and Director of Public Prosecutions retain a State car and Garda drivers for security reasons under the new arrangements.
These were introduced on May 1st last year to cut costs and the only Cabinet members still provided with a car and Garda drivers are the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, for security reasons.
The 12 remaining Ministers had to give up their State car and operate under the same system as Ministers of State, employing civilian drivers who are paid by the State and claiming mileage allowances.
Since June 16th, 2011, former taoisigh and presidents who used to have a car and Garda driver for life are now only supplied with official transport for significant State occasions.
Fianna Fáil Limerick TD Niall Collins asked the cost of Ministerial transport, in a series of questions across all Government departments.
The highest expenditure of €322,377.60 was at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton’s costs were €78,267.57 while transport for Sligo-based Minister of State for Small Business John Perry was €131,363.89.
Costs for Mallow, Co Cork-based Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock totalled €112,746.14.
Minister for Health James Reilly gave just the total cost for himself, and Ministers of State Kathleen Lynch and Róisín Shortall as €222,811.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan also only cited the total expenditure, €122,903. However, he said this was “significantly below the €280,000 average annual cost” under the old arrangement.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said total costs were €195,033 for himself and Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd, including a combined mileage expenses for the two Ministers of €31,083.
A number of Ministers, including Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, gave a detailed breakdown of costs.
Mr Howlin’s expenditure totalled €109,119 including €12,991 for mileage claims, and €631.75 a week for each of two civilian drivers, totalling €66,370 from May last year to March 2012 along with their travel and subsistence claims of €16,246.
Employer PRSI contributions were €13,512.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn’s civilian drivers’ salaries were €73,885 from May 2011 to March 2012 and his mileage allowance was €15,745 for the same period.
Costs for Co Galway-based Minister of State Ciarán Cannon included €81,551 in salaries for his drivers, €11,791 for subsistence and €21,466 for his mileage claim.