Anger and John O'Donoghue

The Sunday Tribune reported over the weekend that current speaker of the Dail, and former tourism minister John O’Donoghue spent upwards of €125,000 (excluding government jet costs) over two years. Among the details:

Among the expenditure were a series of €900-a-night hotels, €7,591 on “airport pick-ups” during a two-day trip to London, €120 for hat rental, €250 for water taxis and €80 to “Indians for moving the luggage”.

On one luxurious trip to Venice, the former arts minister, his wife and the civil servant ran up hotel bills of €5,834 at the Albergo San Marco, the Hotel Cipriani and the San Clemente Palace. The ministerial entourage travelled to Italy by government jet, where they were collected by a private airport boat and taken to their luxury accommodation.

VIP facilities, limousine hire and hat rental were all paid for at the taxpayer’s expense. A limousine in Berlin to transport O’Donoghue to a World Cup soccer game cost €2,436, while Therese O’Connor’s hat hire for an official engagement cost €120.

Curious how the Tribune, I believe, only managed to get access to the information just as the Dail was going into recess. But what is perhaps more important is the attitude of the FOI officer. At first they looked for €600 to get the information requested, which was later reduced to €200. This is clearly unacceptable.

Let me be very clear. As a citizen, I have a right to know about how every cent is spent by every Minister, TD and Senator. I have a right to know how taxpayers’ money is spent. It really is that simple. I want details of every single expenditure. For the moment only ministerial expenses can be accessed in this almost detailed way. TD expenses simply fall under broad categories. This has to change, and I will be pursuing this through every means necessary.

And one thing for the Tribune. Publish all the documents you received in the FOI to the web. This isn’t just your data, it’s our data.