Belfast Telegraph

Lunch bill put officials in a spin

Officials fretted about the cost of a lunch between ex-Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and former European premier Jacques Delors, newly declassified files reveal.

The bill for lunch in the Taoiseach's private dining room in Government Buildings on July 30 1984 came to over IR£207 - around 600 euro today.

Aer Lingus caterers were brought in to feed and wait on the pair.

At the time, Mr Delors was the President-elect of the European Commission.

Files released under the 30-year-rule show officials in the Taoiseach's office were scrambling to justify the "high cost".

"Who were the people involved, and what possible case can we make to (the Department of) Finance for sanction for catering for two people at a cost of £207.53," one wrote.

A note back confirms it was only Mr FitzGerald and Mr Delors at the lunch.

Information about the "high cost" was already given orally to another official, a further note adds.

The file shows the expense, picked up by the taxpayer, was eventually approved subject to officials going back to Aer Lingus to check that the bill was, in fact, correct.

The company confirmed that it was.

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