Quinn defends holiday use of driver

Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 01:00

MINISTER FOR Education Ruairí Quinn’s journeys to Roundstone, Co Galway with his driver last summer have been defended by his spokeswoman, who said they were strictly in accordance with approved arrangements.

Mr Quinn has a holiday home in Roundstone. His mileage came under scrutiny earlier this year, when documents released under the Freedom of Information Act showed he claimed €1,451 in mileage expenses covering more than 5,100km last July.

Most Government Ministers had to give up their ministerial limousines last May, when their entitlement to avail of State cars and Garda drivers ended. Civilian drivers, paid by the State, now operate Ministers’ own cars and get subsistence expenses.

Documents published on the investigative website thestory.ieyesterday showed a driver for Mr Quinn claimed for three journeys from Dublin to Roundstone and two trips in the opposite direction last August. Six journeys between Mr Quinn’s department on Marlborough Street in Dublin and Galway were also recorded in July and August. A claim for a trip from Dublin to Roundstone was also made in October.

Mr Quinn’s spokeswoman said he was frequently required to interrupt his holidays to attend official functions and carry out Government business. His official diary states he was on holiday from August 6th until 28th last year.

She said the diary did not reflect all official uses of the car, such as trips taken on days when no official business was listed.

“In order to carry out his considerable workload at the Department of Education and Skills, the Minister carries confidential official papers in the car and works while en route to his destinations. This is considered to be official travel,” the spokeswoman added.

“All of Minister Quinn’s claims for expenses and mileage are strictly in accordance with the arrangements outlined by the Government.”

She said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had estimated that altered transport arrangements for Ministers represented about a 65 per cent saving on the previous system.