Cost of coronavirus-cancelled St Patrick’s Day visits runs to thousands

Some flight and hotel expenses for State departments and local authorities written off

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed:  €1,653 has been lost on  flights for him and his private secretary to Chicago. Photograph: Tom Honan

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed: €1,653 has been lost on flights for him and his private secretary to Chicago. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Some Government departments and local authorities spent thousands of euro on St Patrick’s Day travel arrangements that they were forced to cancel due to Covid-19.

The cost of flights and accommodation has in some cases had to be written off, while some are trying to claim back the cost from their travel insurance.

At his department, €1,653 was spent on flights for Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his private secretary to travel to Chicago.

However, the cost of the flights had to be written off, while a €50 Waterford Crystal bowl bought as a gift for the trip will be used at a later date.

Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe travelled to the US but was forced to cut short his trip after lockdown was introduced in Ireland.

Cut short

Mr Kehoe was only in North America for three days and a flight change ended up costing the department €1,340.09.

Among local authorities, at least 17 ended up at a loss for travel that never took place or trips that ended up cut short.

Mayo County Council had planned to send five people – officials and councillors – to the US for St Patrick’s Day.

A series of hotel bookings made for the trip were, however, non-refundable.

A total of €1,677 was spent on deluxe rooms at the four-star Row Hotel, €764 for a night’s accommodation at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Philadelphia with a small refund provided, and a further €1,476 for a second stay at the Row Hotel.

Accommodation bill

In Wicklow, the chief executive and cathaoirleach had been due to travel to New York but the trip was cancelled. Of €2,831 paid out for flights, €787 was recovered because the airfare related to an accompanying family member while $2,814 of a $4,718 accommodation bill at the Fitzpatrick Manhattan Hotel has been recouped “to date”.

Kilkenny County Council had to write off €1,383 in travel costs for a flight and hotel booked for a senior official.

In Leitrim, of a total spend of €10,166 for flights, hotels and subsistence, the council was only able to recoup €5,830 because plans were so advanced.

Other councils said they were in discussions with insurers about refunds, including Galway City Council which had booked six flights to Seattle costing in excess of €4,000.

Meath County Council also said it was in talks with insurance providers about €5,987 in charges for flights to the US and Great Britain.

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