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


Rounded cost

Bertie Ahern & delegation

US including Washington DC

(Travelled on Government jet)

Brian Cowen, Minister for Finance

Savannah and Chicago


Mary Coughlan, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

New York


Martin Cullen, Minister for Transport

San Francisco


Noel Dempsey, Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources

Dallas and Houston


Mary Hanafin, Minister for Education & Science



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



Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, Minister of State

Atlanta and Philadelphia


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



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



Brendan Smith, Minister of State



Seán Power, Minister of State



Conor Lenihan, Minister of State



Mary Wallace, Minister of State



Brian Lenihan, Minister of State



Seamus Brennan, Minister for Social & Family Affairs

Italy and the Vatican


Mary Harney, Minister for Health

Norway Sweden and Denmark



Tom Kitt, Government Chief Whip



Noel Ahern, Minister of State



Seán Haughey, Minister of State



John Browne, Minister of State



(Flight cost omitted)

Tim O'Malley, Minister of State



Frank Fahey, Minister of State


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



Tom Parlon, Minister of State

South Africa


Michael McDowell, Tánaiste & Minister for Justice



Dermot Ahern, Minister for Foreign Affairs



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