Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach plays down €30m cost of pontiff's visit

By Kevin Doyle

The Taoiseach has defended the high cost of up to €30m (£27m) of the papal visit for the World Meeting of Families, as the Irish organisers rally to raise the final €5m (£4.5m) of a €21m (£19m) goal.

Neither the Irish Government nor the organisers of the WMOF will issue details on the agreement reached between the parties, and will not release costs and expenditure until after the event.

The last WMOF, where up to $50m was raised by organisers, was held three years ago in Philadelpia and saw its organisers pay the City of Philadelphia $5.23m (£4m) in up-front costs.

Asked about the massive taxpayer funding for the first papal visit since 1979, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it is "very likely" the final bill will hit between €20m (£18m) to €30m (£27m).

"It is important to bear in mind that the reason that money is being spent is not for Pope Francis himself, but for the 600,000 or 700,000 people who are going to attend events all over the country.

"The reason why we are spending that money is for the Irish people. It's for their health and safety, and their security. I think that's appropriate," Mr Varadkar said.

Belfast Telegraph

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