Belfast Telegraph

Files reveal Mugabe gifts rundown

The Irish Government lavished Zimbabwean premier Robert Mugabe with gifts worth thousands of euro during his visit to Dublin in 1983, newly-declassified files reveal.

Garret FitzGerald's Fine Gael-led coalition shelled out several times as much on presents for the controversial African leader as they did for the US vice president George Bush who also visited that year.

Among the centrepiece offerings from the then Taoiseach to Mr Mugabe and his first wife Sally Hayfron were a Waterford Crystal bowl and a vase.

The exclusive glassware was bought from Weirs Jewellers on Dublin's Grafton Street for IR£286.86 - the equivalent of 847 euro today.

Documents released under the 30-year-old rule show a further IR£503.12 - or 1,485 euro today - was spent showering Mr Mugabe's entourage, including ministers and aides, with mementoes of their trip.

These included crystal honey pots, vases, compote and salad bowls, butter dishes and an Irish linen place mat set.

Another IR£33 (100 euro) was spent buying Mrs Mugabe flowers while then junior minister for women's affairs Nuala Fennell reclaimed IR£61.50 (182 euro) from taxpayers for buying her a decanter set.

The same year IR£262.81 - or 776 euro - was spent buying a Waterford bowl and lace mat set for then US vice president George Bush Snr and his wife Barbara.

Fine Gael TD and women's rights campaigner Mrs Fennell submitted a number of expenses for gifts during her time in charge of women's affairs, the documents show.

Among them was a claim for £IR413.98 - the equivalent of 1,222 euro now - for a piece of Waterford Crystal she presented to the All China Women's Federation in a visit that year.

The taxpayer was billed for an extra IR£57.60 - or 170 euro - for Aer Lingus to fly the luxury item to what was then Peking, the Chinese capital Beijing.

Mrs Fennell also claimed for ten Cross chrome pens at a cost of IR£63.40 - or 187 euro - to hand out during her trip.

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