Probe urged as Hogan resides at luxury Rio hotel

An investigation into how much of taxpayers’ money is lavished on hotel rooms for ministers was demanded after it emerged Phil Hogan is staying at a sumptuous Rio hotel for a global warming summit.

Mr Hogan jetted off to South America yesterday amid a chorus of criticism from opposition deputies.

The environment minister — who has been at the centre of controversies surrounding the introduction of the household tax and confusion over proposed water metering — insisted the hotel had been chosen for him by the Brazilian government.

Environment department officials denied the tax-payer would pay normal room rates of €575 per night for the luxurious Sheraton Hotel, but that the cost would be “just over €300” per night.

Brian Stanley, Sinn Féin’s environment spokesman, demanded a probe into the costs. “He has not taken the rucksack and the tent, and I suppose I am not saying that he should take the rucksack and the tent,” said Mr Stanley.

“There is no argument that he should not be at the summit, but perhaps something less expensive than the hotel he is staying in would suffice.

“He should be in Rio, but how these trips are paid for and the price of the hotels ministers stay in should be looked at.”

Mr Hogan’s spokes-people pointed out he had not flown business class to Brazil.

Five officials will also be staying with the minister at the hotel for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which will debate global warming efforts and sustainable development issues.

Mr Stanley said a probe into ministerial hotel costs was especially urgent given reports that the Government was considering deducting property tax charges at source for PAYE workers from late next year.

Mr Hogan’s attendance at the summit means he will not be in the Dáil for a Sinn Féin debate demanding a repeal of the household charge.

In opposition, Fine Gael and Labour launched scathing attacks on what they called Fianna Fáil’s “entitlement culture” while on ministerial trips.

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