annual cost | 

Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny claim €150k bill for secretarial support over past year

Bills for Mr Ahern amounted to just under €70,000 while a further €83,000 was spent on secretarial support for Mr Kenny

Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny

Ken FoxeSunday Independent

More than €150,000 has been spent on providing secretarial support for two former taoisigh over the past year.

The Department of the Taoiseach has been paying about €12,700 every month for secretarial assistance for Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny.

According to figures released under Freedom of Information legislation all the money was paid to a company called Tech Skills Resources Ltd by the department.

Bills for Mr Ahern amounted to just under €70,000 while a further €83,000 was spent on secretarial support for Mr Kenny, the figures show.

Supports for the retired taoisigh had been ended in 2012 by Mr Kenny — when he was head of government — in the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger crash. However, they were restored by Leo Varadkar when he took office in 2017, with civil servants suggesting the annual cost could run to €300,000 per year.

Bills have not run that high, however, with no costs incurred in the provision of VIP services at Dublin Airport between September last year and the end of August this year.

Only a single official request for a state car was made by former taoiseach John Bruton after he was asked to speak in June at an Irish Farmers Journal event on the future of Europe.

“Numerous speakers from at home and abroad are also addressing the event,” said Mr Bruton. “It will be from 8.30am to 1pm. I am requesting the facility of a state car to attend this event under the provision that is extended to former taoisigh.”

Emails from the department said they were “happy to accede to the request on this occasion”.

An internal message said: “I would appreciate when the driver is confirmed [if] you could make contact with Mr Bruton directly on pick up and timings.”

Under current arrangements, former taoisigh can benefit from government support in various ways.

They can be provided with briefing material on government policy, and secretarial assistance from a person who is prohibited from engaging in constituency or party-political task.

State cars are available up to five times each year for “important state functions” while VIP airport facilities at Dublin are also provided.

The Department of the Taoiseach did not respond to a request from the Sunday Independent for a comment.

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