€17m life of luxury for ambassadors and officials

A banquet in honour of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau cost €6,000.

Almost €17m in taxpayers’ money is being spent every year to keep ambassadors and high-ranking officials in the lap of luxury, including €4.5m alone on lavish diplomatic residences.

The Department of Foreign Affairs revealed the figures as separate files show it cost a further €50m to run embassies and consulates last year.

According to official records given to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, in 2017 Irish taxpayers paid €12.5m to rent embassies and consulates in countries across the world and a further €4.5m to rent homes for ambassadors and other officials. Among the most costly residence rental bills were €540,956 for a home in Tokyo, Japan; €288,271 for a property in New Delhi, India; €231,778 for Singapore; and €215,696 for a home in New York.

The cost of temporary housing for ambassadors and their families includes:

  • €195,629: Tel Aviv, Israel;
  • €144,023: Helsinki, Finland;
  • €137,787: Seoul, South Korea;
  • €134,483: Geneva, Switzerland;
  • €107,692: Vienna, Austria.

Of the €12.5m paid on rented embassies and official properties, the highest came in at €1,699,420 for the embassy and consular offices in New York and €1,229,755 to rent similar offices in Brussels, Belgium.

They also include:

  • €501,825: Beijing, China;
  • €406,490: London;
  • €339,598: Geneva, Switzerland;
  • €300,133: Tokyo, Japan;
  • €267,984: San Francisco, USA.

The official figures also show the State owns embassies and consulates worth a further €98m, and ambassador and other residencies valued €69.5m. Last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this was likely to rise due to the Brexit fallout.

The figures were revealed as it separately emerged that the Department of Foreign Affairs spent €56m last year on keeping ambassadors and their officials in the lap of luxury in their foreign locations.

Details published in a Sunday newspaper show the State spent €180,000 on luxury cars overseas, €58,000 on “furniture and fittings”, €5,000 on a bust for a former diplomat, and thousands of euro on food and drink for guests. The luxury cars included three new Audi A6s for the Irish embassy and Brussels officials, costing €29,000-€32,500 each after discounts; a €25,400 BMW for the embassy in Latvia; and a €23,000 Mercedes F Class for the embassy in Cyprus.

A banquet for Britain’s Prince Charles cost €6,000.
A banquet for Britain’s Prince Charles cost €6,000.

At home, the banquet bills for the visits of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Britain’s Prince Charles amounted to €6,000 each.

While the need for Ireland to be properly represented abroad is clear, the scale of the costs is likely to anger public service campaign groups. It will be exacerbated by the fact there will be a doubling of Ireland’s embassy and ambassador presence by 2025 due to Brexit, according to Mr Varadkar.

Embassy and consular offices and accommodation

Offices rented:

New York, USA (permanent representative to UN and consulate general) €1,699,420 combined

Brussels, Belgium (embassy and partnership for peace offices) €1,229,755

Beijing, China €501,825

London, UK €406,490

Geneva, Switzerland €339,598

Tokyo, Japan €300,133

San Francisco, USA €267,984

Sydney, Australia €248,429

Berlin, Germany €256,714

Buenos Aires, Argentina €152,928

Offices owned:

Paris, France €44,999,999

Rome, Italy €18,455,260

Tokyo, Japan €7,739,705

The Hague, Netherlands €6,153,522

Canberra, Australia €4,071,432

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia €3,065,959

Maputo, Mozambique €2,852,351

Washington DC, USA €2,794,161

Strasbourg, France €1,816,501

Lusaka, Zambia €1,655,149

Accommodation rented:

Tokyo, Japan €540,956

New Delhi, India €288,271

Singapore €231,778

New York, USA €215,696

Tel Aviv, Israel €195,629

Jakarta, Indonesia €159,111

Helsinki, Finland €144,023

Seoul, South Korea €137,787

Geneva, Switzerland €134,483

Vienna, Austria €107,692

Accommodation owned:

Ottawa, Canada €7,915,192

Madrid, Spain €6,180,509

New York, USA €5,709,341

The Hague, Netherlands €5,404,818

Washington DC, USA €4,318,339

Berlin, Germany €4,058,286

Athens, Greece €3,608,758

Prague, Czech Republic €2,808,149

Lisbon, Portugal €2,460,709

Stockholm, Sweden €2,335,901


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