State cars and Garda drivers cost more than €1m in 2017

Taoiseach, Tánaiste, President, Chief Justice and DPP all receive service, Minister says

 

State cars for the Taoiseach, the President and others cost more than €1 million in 2017. Leo Varadkar’s car and Garda driver cost €200,698, and those for Michael D Higgins cost €197,005, according to figures provided by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

The State car and Garda driver for Frances Fitzgerald and her successor as Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, cost €278,000 in 2017. That bill was divided between their departments, Justice, Enterprise and Foreign Affairs.

The car and Garda driver for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a role held last year first by Ms Justice Susan Denham and then, after her retirement, by Mr Justice Frank Clarke – cost €179,841.

Those for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Claire Loftus, cost €186,958.

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste are the only Ministers to have State cars and Garda drivers. Those for other Cabinet members were ended in 2011, to save money. Ministers now provide their own cars and are paid travelling expenses. They hire two civilian drivers paid by the State.

In a written reply to the Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins, Mr Flanagan said the total figure included estimated payroll costs, running costs and capital costs where applicable.

Mr Flanagan added that a driver-and-vehicle service is provided for the State Pathologist and Deputy State Pathologist when they are called to cases outside Dublin. The cost for 2017 was €29,708.