Foreign Affairs spends €750kon languages

Fancy brushing up on your Arabic, Korean, Hebrew, Greek, Thai, or Turkish?

Then the Department of Foreign Affairs is the place for you, where figures show that the department has spent almost €750,000 on language tuition for its globetrotting staff over the past four years.

According to information released by the department in response to a Freedom of Information request, tutors and language schools are receiving hourly payments up to €67.50 for one-to-one tuition to help with their Maltese, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, and a score of other languages.

According to the information provided, the spend on language tuition last year increased by 23% from €156,435 in 2012 to €191,666 last year. The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the spend on language tuition reached a recent peak when it was spending €4,000 per week in 2010 on language lessons or €214,030 for that year.

The spend in 2011 fell to €182,849 before decreasing further in 2012 only to increase again last year. Over the four years, the spend came to €744,980.

According to the department, “hourly rates changes by tutors/ language schools for one to one tuition in Ireland range from €30 to €67.50”.

The department spent €172,020 on language tuition from September 1 last year to the end of June this year relating to the tuition for 29 languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Irish, Italian; Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese, as well as sign language.

The department also confirmed that the individuals or firms to receive the top 10 payments last year were Alliance Française, Cathy Hartung, Confusius Institute for Ireland, En Française, German Language Centre, Instituto Cervantes, Languages Unlimited, Marie Therese Saffre, Sandford Language Institute, and Trinity College Dublin.

The spend on language tuition in 2013 for mainly overseas staff follows the Department of Foreign Affairs recently confirming that it spent €43m on funding embassies last year.

Ireland spent €43m on embassies, with a further €7m spent on missions in Africa and Vietnam.

The two Irish missions in Brussels are the most expensive, with the permanent representative to the EU costing €3.4m and the embassy there costing €600,000. In New York, the Permanent Mission to the EU and the Consulate General cost around €3.5m combined. London costs €2.7m and Paris €1.6m.


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