The Taoiseach has defended the amount of money spent sending ministers and government officials abroad for St Patrick's Day.

Bertie Ahern told the Dáil a lot of thought is put into deciding where Ministers go, and Ireland is benefiting.

The matter was raised during Leaders' Questions by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who asked if any analysis had been done on the value for money Irish people were getting from the trips.

RTÉ News has revealed that the trips abroad cost the taxpayer more than €560,000 last year.

The figures, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also show that more than €90,000 was spent on limousine, taxi and car hire for the delegations.

The biggest cost for a single delegation was Noel Dempsey's trip to the US when he was Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

It cost nearly €75,000 for the Minister, his wife and three officials for their trip to California and Texas. Mr Dempsey's flight cost more than €8,100, while chauffeur and car hire cost €19,500.

More than €100,000 was spent on accommodation. Documents show the most expensive was an apartment for Minister Séamus Brennan when he visited Italy. That cost €1,650 per night and was used for two nights.

 

Full list of Ministers' and Government official's trips

Person travelling

Destination

Rounded cost

Bertie Ahern & delegation

US including Washington DC

€18,000
(Travelled on Government jet)

Brian Cowen, Minister for Finance

Savannah and Chicago

€36,000

Mary Coughlan, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

New York

€30,000

Martin Cullen, Minister for Transport

San Francisco

€27,000

Noel Dempsey, Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources

Dallas and Houston

€75,000

Mary Hanafin, Minister for Education & Science

Boston

€19,000

Éamon Ó Cuív, Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs

Phoenix

€30,500

Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, Minister of State

Atlanta and Philadelphia

€33,000

Dick Roche, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Canada

€25,000

John O’Donoghue, Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism

UK

€14,600

Brendan Smith, Minister of State

Manchester

€8,500

Seán Power, Minister of State

Birmingham

€2,300

Conor Lenihan, Minister of State

Edinburgh

€3,400

Mary Wallace, Minister of State

Austria

€7,400

Brian Lenihan, Minister of State

Paris

€4,800

Seamus Brennan, Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Italy and the Vatican

€8,400

Mary Harney, Minister for Health

Norway Sweden and Denmark

€16,800

 

Tom Kitt, Government Chief Whip

Poland

€2,700

Noel Ahern, Minister of State

Romania

€5,000

Seán Haughey, Minister of State

Russia

€5,000

John Browne, Minister of State

China

€2,600

(Flight cost omitted)

Tim O'Malley, Minister of State

Japan

€19,500

Frank Fahey, Minister of State

India

Information not supplied by Department of Justice

Michael Ahern, Minister of State

Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

€52,000 (Paid for by Enterprise Ireland)

Batt O'Keeffe, Minister of State

Vietnam

€18,000

Tom Parlon, Minister of State

South Africa

€35,000

Michael McDowell, Tánaiste & Minister for Justice

US

€30,000

Dermot Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affairs

US

€30,500

Note: Ministers and goverment officials are listed with the positions they held at the time the trips were taken in March 2007

Click here to read Cian McCormack's story on St Patrick's Day trips