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‘VIP’ Ahern is still costing Irish taxpayers a fortune

He might be gone from the Taoiseach's office but Bertie Ahern hasn't forgotten how to be a VIP.

The former leader has cost the Irish taxpayer €14,000 (£11,900) in airport charges and mobile phone bills since standing down.

Ahern, who is famed for having the gift of the gab, has been |running up phone bills of almost €350 (£300) a month — but the Republic's Exchequer has been picking up the tab. The massive bill is covered under a special set of guidelines which give privileges to ex-Taoisigh.

Since his resignation in May 2008, Mr Ahern has submitted mobile phone bills worth €8,331 (£7,050) for payment, while his use of VIP airport charges has cost €5,682 (£4,800).

At the same time as tax money was being used to cover those charges, Mr Ahern was raking in €1 million from a combination of his TD's wage and expenses, a book deal, appearance fees and for writing a column in a British tabloid.

The amounts he claimed for phone and airport usage are far higher than those claimed by other ex-Taoisigh, who are also entitled to a car and driver for life. Albert Reynolds, who served as Taoiseach between 1992 and 1994, was the second highest claimant, with a bill of €5,446 (£4,600) over the past three years.

Fine Gael's John Bruton claimed €1,730 (£1,470), while Liam Cosgrave claimed nothing.

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