St Patrick's Day trips cost €100,000


Initial costs associated with ministers and ministers of State who spent the St Patrick’s Day period are estimated at more than €100,000 to date, although a number of departments have outstanding cost relating to the trips.

The cost of flying Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to the United States on the Government Gulfstream IV - under the Ministerial Air Transport Service provided by the Air Corps - was an estimated €66,325. This cost was borne by the Department of Defence.

The price is based on the average total cost per hour for the Gulfstream, which stands at €3,790, multiplied by the 17.5 flight hours used by the Taoiseach on his trip to the United States.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore said he travelled to Canada on an economy class return ticket totalling €673 and was accompanied by four officials whose return flights amounted to €2,850. A further €4,943 was spent by the delegation on accommodation internal flights, car and driver hire during the trip between March 16th and 18th. However final costs are not yet available.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the only expenses incurred by his department during his trip to Paris was the cost of the flights for him and one official costing €978 including taxes and charges.  “In order to reduce the costs of the visit the official and I stayed in the Ambassador’s residence in Paris. The costs arising in Paris in relation to the trip were met from the existing budget of the Irish Embassy in Paris,” he said.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and his private secretary incurred costs totalling €11,368 in travelling to Australia and New Zealand between March 13th and March 24th

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said she and one official spent €1,624 on flights but said that details of accommodation and ancillary costs were not yet available.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald incurred €1,415 in flight costs although not all invoices have yet been received and processed.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who was accompanied by his private secretary, travelled to Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Brussels. Flights and hotel accommodation cost €2,070. However, this figure excludes subsistence costs that have not yet been processed. Mr Coveney said that all local transport “was provided by the respective embassies using embassy vehicles”.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, who visited Italy accompanied by his private secretary and special adviser, said the delegation incurred €1,390 in costs to date.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the only cost incurred by his department in respect of a visit to Singapore by him and two officials was in flight costs which totalled €7,035. “In order to reduce the costs of the visit my officials and I stayed in the Ambassador’s residence in Singapore,” he said, adding that these costs were met in the existing budget of the Irish Embassy.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn saidMinister of State Ciarán Cannon had travelled China for the St Patrick’s Day period, leading an education mission, organised by Enterprise Ireland, and comprising senior representatives from Irish universities, ITs and other higher education institutions with a cost to date of €11,449, which included flights and official gifts.

Mr Quinn said further costs including hotel, travel and subsistence, internal flights and car hire costs, were yet to be charged to the department.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, who travelled to San Francisco from March 13th to 15th, said he and his private secretary incurred flight costs totalling €2,217 while other costs, including accommodation, were borne directly by the organising agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA. Subsistence costs have yet to be paid.

Travel and accommodation costs of Minister of State John Perry and his private secretary - who visited Finland and Sweden - were borne by Enterprise Ireland apart from one night spent in the Irish Ambassador’s residence in Stockholm on the March 15th. Subsistence claims on behalf of both parties have not yet been paid.

Costs were not yet available in relation to trips by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, who travelled to New Orleans and Atlanta between March 13th and March 18th, and Minister of State Dinny McGinley, who attended events in Glasgow and Edinburgh from March 14th to March 18th.

The relevant Ministers answered questions relating to expenses incurred during trips taken over the St Patrick’s Day period in answers to parliamentary questions posed by Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan. These were answered on March 29th.

No details were provided relating to Ministerial travel costs incurred by the Department of Transport, which was represented by the Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister for State Michael Ring, who travelled to London and Birmingham.