O’Donoghue may finally explain lavish expenses — but not in public

CEANN Comhairle John O’Donoghue may finally offer an explanation for his lavish expenses — but to his colleagues in the Oireachtas rather than the public.

The Oireachtas press office yesterday confirmed that Mr O’Donoghue was considering “clarifying the matter with his colleagues” in advance of the Dáil’s resumption on September 16.

One of the options being considered is the placing of a written statement by Mr O’Donoghue in the Oireachtas library — to which the public has no access.

And although the media could obtain the statement, it would not be able to ask follow-up questions of Mr O’Donoghue, who has yet to break his silence on the expenses controversy.

The Oireachtas press office said it did not know the exact date on which Mr O’Donoghue planned to clarify the issue, only that it would be before September 16.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore this week added his voice to growing calls for Mr O’Donoghue to explain the bills he racked up while serving as Arts Minister in 2006 and 2007.

The bills included hotel rooms costing €990 a night in Cannes, a limousine hire in Berlin costing more than €2,400 and €250 for water taxis in Venice.

It also emerged that a limousine costing €472 was used to ferry Mr O’Donoghue from Terminal 3 in London’s Heathrow Airport to Terminal 1 while he was minister — a journey which would have taken just minutes on the airport’s free shuttle service.

Mr O’Donoghue also used the government jet in 2006 to fly back from the Cannes Film Festival to a constituency event in Kerry before flying onwards to Cardiff for the Heineken Cup final.

He has been labelled a “waster” by Fine Gael senator Pascal Donohoe, who said he could not understand why the ceann comhairle had not resigned.

But several Fianna Fáil colleagues, including Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin, European Affairs Minister Dick Roche, and former minister Mary O’Rourke, have defended Mr O’Donoghue.


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