Government told DAA to give company car to former chief

Dalton Philips’ Range Rover cost State airports company €57, 000

The Government ruled that State airports company DAA provide former chief executive Dalton Philips with the company car that has sparked a political row.

A Government backbench TD criticised the DAA on Wednesday for providing Mr Philips with a €117,000 diesel Range Rover SUV in 2019, which the company sold last year for about €60,000.

However, a Department of Transport spokeswoman confirmed that when the DAA appointed Mr Philips in 2017, the government stipulated he have “use of a car provided by the company”, rather than an allowance to fund his own vehicle. It is understood the former chief executive would have preferred an allowance.

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She noted that this was based on a sanction received at the time from the Department of Public Expenditure, where Paschal Donohoe was minister. This was in turn based on a government code of practice on State company executive pay introduced in 2016.


Mr Philips never owned the car and the DAA disposed of it after he left last year to become Greencore chief executive. This left the airport company with a net cost of €57,000.

The row blew up when Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday that it was “unacceptable” that such a large car had been provided “for a person who works in Dublin”. He said that the chief executives of other State transport companies, Irish Rail, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, all drive electric vehicles.

Since Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan took office in 2020 his department has insisted that any new car provided to State company or agency executives as part of their terms and conditions be an electric vehicle.

The DAA ordered Mr Philips’s car in 2018 and he received it in 2019. Up to then, he used the vehicle provided to his predecessor, Kevin Toland, which was the same model.

Electric vehicle ownership was low in the Republic in 2019 as there were few charging points countrywide.

Electric Mercedes

The former DAA chief executive commuted from rural Co Wicklow daily, while he travelled regularly to Cork Airport which the company also runs — a round trip of some 600km.

Mr O’Dowd said that all Government departments should assess exactly what sort of vehicles were being bought with their consent.

Current DAA executive Kenny Jacobs drives an electric Mercedes which the company has leased, confirmed the airports group on Wednesday.

Mr Philips earned €398,000 a year from the DAA, including a €250,000 basic salary, pension and, among other items, benefit-in-kind, which is taxable, for use of the car. A pay cut during 2020, when Covid hit travel, cut this total to €366,000.

Greencore is paying him €700,000 a year, plus an 8 per cent pension contribution and bonuses in line with the group’s executive pay policy.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter