Biden visit costs included €6,700 canapé reception and chewing gum removal

Leinster House reception, purchase of flags and plants, and a €147 Domino’s Pizza bill feature in Oireachtas, OPW and local authorities spending on US president’s official trip

A €6,700 Leinster House canapé reception, thousands spent on flags and plants, chewing gum removal, carpet cleaning and a Domino’s Pizza bill are all included in €285,000 spent by State agencies during the visit of US president Joe Biden.

The full cost of the visit in April – including security - is expected to run into several million euro.

The total sum is yet to be calculated with the Garda, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Defence Forces still finalising figures.

However, records released by the Oireachtas, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Louth and Mayo County Councils show their expenditure on welcoming Mr Biden in April.


Oireachtas authorities spent €54,474 on the visit which included Mr Biden’s historic address to TDs and Senators.

More than €8,300 of this was spent with the catering services in Leinster House.

This includes €6,697 on a canapé reception hosted by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl in the members’ restaurant following Mr Biden’s speech.

Three hundred Ireland/USA flag pins for Oireachtas members and staff were bought at a cost of €523.

Maxwell Photography was hired for €3,579 and the cost of services and mobile TV broadcast equipment provided by a company called TVM came to €25,009.

The OPW spent €65,584 including staff overtime costs of €17,203 as Mr Biden visited a number of its sites.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hosted a banquet for Mr Biden at Dublin Castle which got a spring clean with “cleaning at height” costing €11,554 and €1,475 spent on cleaning the rug in the Apollo Room.

A total of €8,622 was spent on the “supply of flowers”, while the OPW spent €981 on flags.

Louth County Council spent some €41,000 with Mr Biden visiting Carlingford Castle and Dundalk.

More than €12,000 of this was staff overtime costs.

The council commissioned Garrett Mallon Design House in Carlingford to make cufflinks for Mr Biden.

The design was called Cloicin (small stone in Irish). Garrett Mallon posted on Facebook at the time that his inspiration came from “the stoney shores of Carlingford Lough where the president’s ancestors left so many years ago”. The silver-and-gold cufflinks cost €350.

Signage, PR services, website consultancy and “crowd safety advisory services” provided by four different companies came to a combined €26,300. Spending on USA flags and bunting was €1,565 across two suppliers.

Louth County Council also spent €147.91 on food from Domino’s Pizza in Dundalk on the evening of April 12th for staff from the local multi-agency co-ordination group which was working for the duration of Mr Biden’s visit to Louth that day.

Mayo County Council spent about €124,000 with Mr Biden visiting a number of locations there on his last day in Ireland.

He delivered a speech to an estimated 27,000 people in front of St Muradach’s Cathedral, Ballina.

Payroll costs for the local authority came to €45,684.

Some €14,800 was spent on flowers, trees and shrubs and the hiring of equipment including JCBs and gardening tools amongst other related expenditure.

Highway markings on the N17 and R376 roads cost €14,320 and litter picking on the same routes on the approach to Knock airport came to €1,770. Surface cleaning and gum removal in Ballina town centre cost €13,620.

Mayo County Council spent €3,321 on 300 flags – 150 American and 150 Irish. In a statement, it said it was delighted with the boost in the profile for the county and Mr Biden’s visit “put Co Mayo on the map for millions of people” and “the benefits of the visit and exposure for the county is something we believe will be reaped over the years to come”.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times