'grave concern' | 

Irish Embassy in Mexico gets €110k to buy armoured car for staff amid narco-terrorism fears

Irish staff posted there said there was a need for “constant security” and that they had to be “extremely vigilant in travel"

Mexico City

Ken Foxe

The Department of Foreign Affairs has approved spending of almost €110,000 for the purchase of an armoured car for use by embassy staff in Mexico amid fears of narco-terrorism.

An €82,119 down-payment, a 75pc deposit on the Ford Explorer hybrid vehicle, was paid last year as part of a €425,000 spend on new cars by the department.

The armoured car was required for what has been described by diplomats as an “acutely challenging” country to work in, according to internal reviews.

The most recent mission review report said organised crime, including narco-terrorism, was “a grave concern” and that the US war on drugs had a “baleful influence” on Mexico with drug trafficking at the heart of “pervasive corruption”.

Irish staff posted there said there was a need for “constant security” and that they had to be “extremely vigilant in travel.”

The armoured car was one of two vehicles purchased in Mexico last year along with a spend of just over €30,000 on a Toyota Sienna as a replacement vehicle.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also paid out €57,287 for a new BMW 530e hybrid vehicle for the new mission in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

At other embassies, trade-ins were taken advantage of with €46,417 paid out at the Saudi embassy in Riyadh for a GMC Yukon vehicle to replace the old Chevrolet Tahoe car.

In New York, the department made a swap for a new hybrid Ford Explorer vehicle for their diplomatic staff paying over €31,871 for the newer replacement model.

A similar trade-in deal in Tel Aviv, Israel, saw €23,584 paid out for a new Mercedes E300e to replace the embassy’s old Skoda Superb.

Other embassies that upgraded their vehicles last year included Helsinki which traded for a new BMW 530e for €21,700 and New Delhi where €19,184 was enough to buy a new MG Hector in exchange for the Suzuki Vitara that had been in use.

Down-payment on a new vehicle for the London Embassy was also made last year with a 25pc deposit of €10,675 paid for a BMW 530e to replace the existing BMW car.

Three off-road vehicles for use in Ireland’s diplomatic stations in Africa were purchased in 2021 with just over €102,000 paid out.

This covered the cost of two €37,275 Toyota Landcruisers for the mission in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, and €28,198 for a Toyota Rav in Lusaka, Zambia.

In an information note, the department said that their international staff undertook a significant amount of travel in carrying out their roles.

They said: “As well as demanding schedules, in many cases there are also issues related to limited availability of public transport, security considerations and location.”

The department said vehicles were used for as long as they could operate in a safe and efficient manner and while they still had a good trade-in value.

“In general, sanction to replace an official vehicle will be given only where the vehicle is old; where there are security, safety or environmental considerations; where there is a business requirement for the purchase or replacement; or the cost of maintenance/operating are increasing to an extent that maintaining the vehicle is no longer economical,” they said.

Other factors considered were climate, terrain, safety, security, as well as environmental considerations on how it would affect the department’s carbon footprint.

Today's Headlines

More World Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos