State should pay for ministerial spouses’ trips in some cases, says PAC chair
Fellow PAC member Simon Harris says work of public spending body cannot be undermined
John McGuinness TD, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee said family, personal and health reasons could require ministerial partners having their trips abroad funded by State. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has said the State should pay for spouses to join ministers on trips away in some cases.
Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who chairs the Dáil’s public spending body, said on a case by case basis, depending on family, personal and health reasons, the trips should be paid for.
Mr McGuinness was speaking on RTÉ radio this morning after it was revealed he had asked to be allowed to bring his wife on business-related trips abroad when he was a junior minister, offering to pay for her himself. However, she did not accompany him on any official trip.
“A case could be made and the minister should pay, but that there may be cases and circumstances where the State might pay,” he said.
“There are circumstances that should be considered when ministers are away on State business for long periods of time and where they believe that their wife should travel, they should pay. There may be other circumstances where the minister can then make a case, within a new set of guidelines, where he believes the State should pay.”
Responding to the claims, Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, who is a member of the committee, tweeted that the PAC’s credibility cannot be undermined. “PAC has a huge & important body of work to do. The credibility of the Committee cannot be undermined and the Chairman needs to consider that,” he tweeted.
Also speaking on RTÉ radio, Minister of State at the Department of Transport Alan Kelly said he was not aware of any incidents where a wife or husband of a minister would travel alongside them and have the State pay for it.
He also called Mr McGuinness’s remarks “bizarre”.