Belfast Telegraph

Queen 'should pay bed and board'

The British Queen should be asked to pay for "bed and breakfast" to cushion the cost of her state visit on hard-pressed Irish taxpayers, it has been claimed.

With the Dublin and London governments finalising details of next month's historic trip, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was urged to ask the Royal Family to foot some of the bill.

Mr Kenny said the full cost of the visit was not yet known.

In the Dail, Socialist TD Joe Higgins suggested to Mr Kenny that Queen Elizabeth II pay for food and board given the state of Ireland's finances.

"In view of the fact that the Royal Family of Britain is one of the wealthiest families in the world and this country is almost sleeping rough, so to speak, figuratively, would you ask the Queen if she might make a contribution towards her own bed and breakfast costs to assist the unfortunate taxpayers, and go easier on them," Mr Higgins said, sparking laughter from some deputies.

Ireland is also due to welcome US President Barack Obama next month, leading to another massive operation by the state's security forces.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter later again declined to disclose how much extra funding the Garda needs to police the state visits.

He said there was no definitive cost because unforeseen circumstances such as weather could affect the final bill. But he said that, whatever the cost, the trips would pay for themselves in international goodwill, publicity and a boost in tourism.

"What is necessary will be available," he said.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has asked Mr Shatter for extra money outside the force's annual policing budget to cope with the massive security operations around the visits.

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