On Tuesday last, Fianna Fail’s environment spokesperson Niall Collins received written replies to questions he tabled in the Dail. Deputy Collins asked the same question of each of our 15 ministers – “the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter” He doesn’t appear to have received a response from Minister for Health James Reilly but the details of the other fourteen are here – the information is derived from the 14 individual replies that Deputy Collins received (click to ENLARGE):
He was given a variety of answers, though all except Minister Varadkar (see above), provided figures. It seems that the Ministers decided to interpret the question in their own narrow way, and in general limited the scope of their replies to expenses incurred for mileage and for accommodation. Remember that three members of the Cabinet have retained a ministerial Mercedes and drivers – An Taoiseach, An Tanaiste and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence. Other Ministers use their own cars though each is provided with two drivers at the taxpayers’ expense. When they use their own cars, they are entitled to claim a mileage. These are the current rates.
Incredibly Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry has claimed €31,867 mileage allowance in the past 12 months. With the total cost of owning and running an average car in Ireland put at just over €11,000 by the AA, it is difficult to see how Minister Perry is not making a handsome profit on his mileage. Even though Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn’s mileage costs have come in for some scrutiny by the Irish Mail on Sunday/Daily Mail – and, interestingly, no other newspaper – it is his Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, who appears to occupy 2nd place in the mileage stakes with €22,763 claimed for mileage and accommodation. Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring isn’t much better having claimed €22,691 for mileage in the 10 month to January 2012 – his mileage is set out here and here and includes an incredible €4,618.17 claimed for the month of January 2012 alone!
Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter was ambiguous with his responses, because he provided two – one in which he said that no expenses had been claimed by him or his two ministers of state, and one in which he sets out some expenses which included a claim for €100 for travel vaccinations and €707.77 for hotel expenses for a trip to the Lebanon in October 2011 to visit with Irish UN troops. His ministerial “accomplishments” for the year show that he spent between 14-16th October, 2011 in the Lebanon, or two nights presumably, at a shade over €350 a night for his hotel costs. At least Alan doesn’t have to worry about the €100 household charge, he claimed €100 for travel vaccinations which presumably immunises him for personal travel also, perhaps to see his rental property in Florida. “Get a life!” indeed Alan!
Unwittingly perhaps, Minister Varadkar’s unhelpful reply – it was “unhelpful” because it is quite difficult to get at the information on the Minister’s Departmental website – eventually revealed more detail than was provided in the other ministerial responses. Leo managed to spend €2,249.47 on three return economy flights from Dublin to Luxembourg in October 2011 for himself, his private secretary and his Department’s Secretary General. That’s €750 per return flight. The purpose of the travel was to attend a EU Transport Council event which presumably wasn’t last minute which makes €750 for a return economy flight between Dublin and Luxembourg look extortionate when a quick online search suggests an economy price for a return ticket would be under €250. Minister Varadkar provides a breakdown of the €7k of costs of his trip toIndia for 2011 St Patrick’s Day which includes €240 for gifts and there’s the €350 per room per person – Leo brought his private secretary and they needed two rooms, though they did stay one night only at the residence of the Irish ambassador.
Remember the above expenses will exclude a whole raft of allowances and benefits which the ministers claim and which are set out in some detail here. It also excludes any income provided by their own political parties which is claimed from the taxpayer – you’ll find some general details here. And of course it excludes salaries and additional post payments, set out here.