Dempsey branded ‘latter-day prince’

TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey was branded an arrogant “latter-day prince” last night after his use of the Government jet drew fire.

The row erupted after it emerged Mr Dempsey used the jet, which costs almost €8,000 an hour in flying costs, to attend the MacGill summer school in Donegal last month.

The jet took Mr Dempsey to Derry Airport where he was met by his Garda driver who had brought the minister’s state car from Dublin for the rest of the journey to Glenties in Donegal.

Rebel Fianna Fáil TD Mattie McGrath, who had the party whip withdrawn from him for voting against the Government, demanded Brian Cowen intervene. “The Minister for Transport doesn’t believe the road network is good enough for him. I think he is being unbelievably arrogant. I’m calling on the Taoiseach to take some action here.

“He [Dempsey] thinks he’s a latter-day prince and he’s entitled to the royal treatment. He treats his backbenchers in the same way. Some of these people have just got so arrogant it’s beyond belief,” he told RTÉ’s Drivetime.

The Transport Department disputed some media reports the trip had cost more than €100,000, insisting the travel arrangements came to around €13,000. Mr Dempsey’s spokesperson said the minister needed to attend a breakfast meeting in London the morning after his MacGill lecture and the jet was the “most viable” way to get there.

“By the time the minister had finished... there was no commercial flight that he could have taken from Derry, Donegal, Belfast, Sligo or Dublin that would get him to London in time for his 7.15am meeting... the following morning.”

Fine Gael communications spokesman Leo Varadkar ridiculed the claims, saying it had cost him €55 to fly to the MacGill summer school.

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