Belfast Telegraph

Irish ministers fly into a storm over use of jets

By Aine Kerr

An Irish government jet has been used twice to collect and drop-off the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan at City of Derry Airport, which is convenient to her home.

And other short ministerial detours to airports such as Knock, Cork, Shannon and City of Derry are boosting the bill to the Republic’s taxpayers by as much as £1,635 each time.

Every time a minister is collected or dropped off at their local airport, the Gulfstream and Learjet must first depart and eventually land at the Air Corps' base in Baldonnel Aerodrome, south-west of Dublin.

The direct flying costs for the Gulfstream and Learjet is £3,310 and £1,038 per hour.

Flying time to and from the regional airports (around 30 minutes), adds in the region of £1,635 or £490 each time.

Ministers, who have chauffeur driven cars, often board at Baldonnel and are picked up later at an airport closer to home after their garda driver travels by road.

The revelation about the detours to local airports comes after Irish Transport Minister Noel Dempsey sparked outrage when he used the jet to fly from Dublin to Londonderry for a speaking engagement and on to London at a cost of £10,625.

Ministers' use of the jets for short hops has drdawn sharp criticism from Opposition parties.

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