A State agency spent €23,731 sending nine fishery industry executives and two staff on a five-day training course in Dubai, with five-star hotel accommodation provided throughout.
Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) said the event in the UAE was part of a year-long course for senior leadership development for management in the fishing industry.
Records obtained under FOI show that €14,124.50 was paid to the five-star Radisson Blu Hotel on the Dubai Waterfront for accommodation and dining.
The 432-bed luxury hotel promises “breathtaking views of the skyline, including phenomenal feats of architecture such as the 828-metre high Burj Khalifa and newly opened Dubai canal”.
Its website said many rooms include private balconies, and that the hotel has “outstanding facilities, and friendly professional service”.
According to an invoice, BIM booked 66 standard room bed nights at the hotel for the 11-strong delegation with the rooms charged at the rate of around €150 per night.
Dining bills were run up at the hotel’s Firelake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, where €1,065 was paid on November 16 for the house menu for 11 with “dinner extras” and an “additional package” also charged.
A spokeswoman for BIM said the “accommodation provided by BIM was within the civil service rates”.
Separately, BIM also forked out €8,188 for flights with Emirates to Dubai. Another €1,112 was spent on transport from the company White Line Limousines for airport transfers and to bring the group to and from the training course.
The Dubai trip was part of more than €172,000 that the agency spent on overseas travel last year.
Other costs included €3,600 for flights to attend a Goal conference in Chennai, India, €6,706 in flight costs for a “domestic council” in Hamburg, and €3,980 in costs for a trip to Halifax in Canada for a working group and fishing forum.
Another €2,620 was spent on a group industry benchmarking meeting in Paris, while €4,195 was spent on flights and other costs for an International Council for the Exploration of the Seas event in Shanghai.
A spokeswoman said the Dubai costs were part of its Horizon programme, which was designed to deliver advanced business and leadership skills within the seafood sector.
“In 2019, the programme had nine participants from the Irish catching, processing, and aquaculture sectors,” she said. “The year-long programme comprised a series of workshops, group and one-to-one mentoring and coaching sessions in Ireland.”
The nine participants attended the ‘Orchestrated Winning Performance Leadership Development Programme at IMD’ event, which was held in Dubai last November.
The spokeswoman said: “This programme facilitated the leaders to develop their skills, share experiences of business challenges they have faced in their careers with others on the programme and build relationships with a global network of business leaders.
“The Irish seafood industry as a whole benefits from further developing leadership capability in the sector.”