Transport Minister Shane Ross has ordered his officials to “make immediate inquiries” into revelations that Dublin Port managers spent hundreds of thousands of euro on company credit cards for flights, restaurants, and entertainment.
A spokesperson for Mr Ross told the Irish Examiner last night he will demand answers on the situation after the spending splurge was revealed at the weekend.
In a detailed report yesterday, it was revealed that Dublin Port officials spent just over €500,000 last year on credit cards and official entertainment related to the semi-state body.
The spending included:
Dublin Port chief executive Eamonn O Reilly spending almost €95,000 on a company credit card for flights, hotels, and other expenses;
Four executives spending a combined €270,000 on credit cards for a range of expenses, including iTunes subscriptions, dishwasher repairs, foreign travel, and staff entertainment;
Dublin Port communications manager Charlie Murphy spending more than €30,000 on credit cards during meetings in restaurants and bars including The Long Hall, Matt the Thresher, and The Stag’s Head in Dublin;
€200,000 being spent on commissioning a song from musician Philip King for the launch of the Luxembourg-owned ‘Brexit Buster’ ferry, the MV Celine, from Dublin Port last year,
The details of the costs were placed on 22 credit cards for the Dublin Port company, which comprises 160 people.
In a statement, Dublin Port said that its “internal auditor reviews expenditure including on credit cards and reports directly to the audit and risk committee of the board”, adding: “No concerns have been raised about any expenditure.”
The company has also stressed that the hundreds of thousands of euro in expenses is just a fraction of its €90.4m turnover and €43.6m operating cost base.
In addition, it said all expenditure is detailed in the company’s independently audited financial accounts, while credit cards are provided as they are an “administratively efficient means of payment with strong audit control”.
Responding to the cost revelations last night, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Shane Ross told the Irish Examiner that he is concerned about the figures.
Saying further answers are needed, the spokesperson said Mr Ross has ordered his Departmental officials to make “immediate inquiries” to find out the context and exact details of the records.
“The minister is concerned about the contents of the piece in today’s Sunday Independent and has instructed his officials to make immediate enquiries,” the spokesperson said.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy has also called for further clarity on the cost issues, saying he would like to see Dublin Port officials attend an upcoming transport committee meeting to answer questions on the situation.
“The Oireachtas committee on transport are scheduled to meet with senior executives of Dublin Port to discuss their decision to restrict the number of cruise liners to visit the port from 2021,” said Mr Troy.
A request should now be submitted advising that they should be prepared to answers questions on the exposed expenses.