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Sky high Taxpayers fork out nearly €500k to fly Government ministers around world on private aircraft

The most expensive journey this year was Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's trip to Greece and Cyprus in July, at a cost of about €47,000

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 Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's trip to Greece and Cyprus in July cost about €47,000. 

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's trip to Greece and Cyprus in July cost about €47,000. 

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's trip to Greece and Cyprus in July cost about €47,000. 

The cost to the taxpayer of nearly half-a-million Euro to fly Government ministers around the world on private aircraft has been described as “a waste of money”. 

New figures released to Newstalk show that the Taoiseach and ministers have taken 32 private flights at a cost of €482,000 in the first eight months of this year so far.

The most expensive was Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's trip to Greece and Cyprus in July, which came in at about €47,000.

The Government normally uses commercial flights for air travel, although the ‘Learjet’ and Air Corps Cara aircraft are also used.

The cost to the Government last year of €222,000 private aircraft flights was as a result of the pandemic’s effect on international travel.

In the first eight months of this year however, that cost has risen to €482,000.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said it is a waste of money.

"I find it very hard to believe that in all of those cases, there was no alternative and the only way to travel was by Government jet,” he told Newstalk.

“Instead, what it certainly looks like is that people are choosing to travel in the kind of luxury of a private jet as opposed to travelling with the rest of society on normal planes.”

He described the Government’s use of private aircraft is “excessive.”

“In the vast majority of cases, ministers and the Tánaiste and Taoiseach should be travelling on regular flights with the rest of us as opposed to spending more than ten times as much by going on the Government jet.”

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While Government spend on private aircraft is up on last year it is on track to hit a similar level as it did in 2019 – when it spent just over €738,000 across 12 months.

That spend was down 25% on the year before.

The Department of Finance said Minister Donohoe's trip to Greece and Cyprus in July, at a cost of about €47,000, was partly related to his role as President of the Eurogroup.

The Department of Defence said the level of flights to date this year is in keeping with the years before the pandemic.

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