Embassies spend over €100,000 on St Patrick’s Day parties

Figures released to The Irish Times reveal missions where cash splashed, and on what

US president Barack Obama welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Oval Office. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US president Barack Obama welcomes Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the Oval Office. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

 

More than €100,000 was spent on St Patrick’s Day parties in March at nine Irish Embassies abroad.

Figures released to The Irish Times show €96,649 was spent on food and beverages by the missions in New York, Washington DC, London, Paris, Beijing, New Delhi, Ottawa and Pretoria, while €1,846.66 was spent on flowers and €4,534.95 was spent on entertainment.

In all, €105,280.98 was spent by these missions on St Patrick’s Day parties. The data was released under the Freedom of Information Acts.

The highest spending mission was the New York consulate, which spent €36,006 on eight separate events. Of this, €25,762 was spent on food, €9,303 on drinks, €50 on flowers and €891 on entertainment. Among its guests were author Colum McCann and former US ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith.

The Irish Embassy in Washington spent €28,742 in all – €27,269 on food and drink, €554 on flowers and €919 on entertainment – for its St Patrick’s Day reception.

Among the high-profile guests at the Washington DC party were Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP), deputy first minister Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin) and leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood.

The London Embassy spent €9,092 on four functions, of which €4,769 was on food and €3,898 was on drink. Among the guests at the main St Patrick’s Day community reception were journalist Mary Kenny, actor Pauline McLynn and historian Roy Foster.

Guest list

The Paris Embassy’s party cost €4,693, of which €1,950 was on food, €1,242 was on drink, €500 was on flowers and €1,000 was on entertainment. On the Paris guest list were Mick Wallace TD and Minister for Education Richard Bruton – minister for enterprise and jobs at the time. The Irish permanent delegation to the OECD in Paris spent €2,777 on a reception.

The Beijing Embassy spent €10,495 on its party, of which €7,887 was on food, €1,140 on drinks, €278 was on flowers and €1,190 on entertainment. The Embassy was reluctant to give details of its guest list given possible political sensitivities. Among those there, however, was author Eimear McBride who was in the Chinese capital for the Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival.

The New Delhi Embassy spent €5,213 on its party, of which the biggest expense was venue hire, at €2,086. Food cost €1,747. drinks were €1,340 and flowers cost €39.77. No guest list was provided for the Indian St Patrick’s Day party.

The Irish Embassy in Pretoria spent €4,861 celebrating the day, of which €3,037 was on food, €1,281 was on drinks, €245 was on venue hire and €298 was on entertainment. No guest list was provided.

The Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, spent €3,400 on its reception – €1,413 on food, €1,750 on drinks and €237 on entertainment. Among the guests was Gen John de Chastelain, chairman of the Northern Ireland independent commission on decommissioning between 1997 and 2011, the body responsible for delivering the decommissioning of paramilitary arms.