Staff at Ireland’s new mission in Jakarta in Indonesia opted to purchase budget Ikea furniture — but failed to prevent the overall spend on embassy refurbishment across the network topping €2.665m last year.
Figures released through the Freedom of Information Act show the €2.665m spend was the highest in recent years driven by the Government’s decision to expand its network of missions globally to 80.
The second highest spend on a single mission was at Jakarta in Indonesia at €379,476.
Detailed figures provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs show the Jakarta mission spent €6,222 on Ikea furniture in 2015.
The total spend on furniture at the Jakarta mission in 2015 — including the outlay on Ikea — amounted to €21,170.
The figures also show that the garden works at the new ambassadorial residence in Jakarta cost €8,348 while an additional €7,214 was spent under the heading of drapes and curtains at the Jakarta residence.
The spend at the Jakarta mission also included an outlay of €1,595 on “chancery flags poles”.
The €2.66m spend on refurbishing embassies and ambassadors’ residences last year represents a 14% increase on the €2.34m spend under the same heading in 2014 and a 40% increase on the €1.9m spent in 2013.
The high spend in 2015 was also driven by the opening of new missions at Hong Kong (€333,043); Bangkok (€318,562) and Austin, Texas (€213,267).
According to a statement accompanying the figures, refurbishment of embassies and residences “becomes necessary over time in order to maintain a suitable representational standard”.
The Department’s FoI unit stated “capital and maintenance costs in Zagreb, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok and Austin relate to the opening of Ireland’s new missions in those locations”.
The statement adds: “In January 2014, the Government agreed an expansion of the State’s consular network abroad to include five new embassies and three new consulates to be established in locations across South East Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas”.
The statement adds: “The expansion of the network is specifically designed to maximise potential in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and educational exchanges — all of which will be drivers of growth into the next generation.
The statement continues: “The network of missions abroad now stands at 80 which is smaller than similar sized countries with which we must compete such as Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
The department stated that the offices and official residences of ambassadors “provide platforms for our missions to promote Ireland’s economic interests, provide services to the public and represent Ireland in international organisations”.
The largest single spend last year was at the department’s permanent representation for the EU at Brussels totalling €387,143.
According to department, “the majority of the costs at our Permanent Representation in Brussels relate to the relocation of our embassy to Belgium to our Permanent Representation to the European Union”.
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