Irish embassy credit cards were used to pay €3,800 for Paris AirBnb and €2,470 on chocolate
21st August 2022
Irish Embassy credit cards were used to pay congestion charge fines in London, for the purchase of £2,100 (€2,470) worth of handmade chocolates, to pay an Airbnb bill for a Paris apartment of €3,800, and for tens of thousands of euro in hotel costs.
Copies of card statements from some of Ireland’s most high-profile embassies detail how congestion charge penalties of £80 were paid on two separate occasions at the embassy in London.
Ireland’s UK embassy also splashed out more than £2,100 on handmade chocolate from the Kerry-based artisan producer Dingle Chocolates, with a further £827 spent with the same supplier on a later date.
There were also regular Nespresso bills ranging from £76 to £166 to keep the Embassy coffee machine stocked up for “senior level meetings”.
Other items purchased regularly through the embassy card included a monthly Spotify subscription, regular congestion charge payments for London’s streets, and a magazine subscription for The Spectator.
The embassy in London also incurred a £3,500 bill at the five-star Taj Hotel in central London, although a credit of £1,755 was later applied to their account from the hotel.
Also on the credit card statements were £192 for Ardsallagh goats cheese and £353 to the Oxenford Farm, which provides Christmas trees.
There were extensive bills of more than £9,000 from the Hilton Hotel in March this year to coincide with St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said these bills covered accommodation for the Taoiseach, the Finance Minister, and their staff and that the money had been recouped from their respective departments.
They said congestion charges were paid for an official who was performing official duties, with the credit card used to avoid further penalties.
At the embassy in Paris, extensive hotel bills were run up with several stays at the four-star Hotel Montfleuri.
Among the six separate bills there were payments of €823 and €395 in March and April this year, as well as a bill of €1,421 in June. The department said the hotel was frequently booked, with price comparisons taking place to ensure the best deals.
At the embassy in Sydney, extensive entertainment bills were run up, including €1,096 for a whiskey tasting event at the Doss House to promote Irish produce.
There were also substantial airline bills, with $13,914 (€9,525) paid for flights in November last year and a further $11,462 for flights in June 2021.
An Airbnb bill of €3,800 was also charged to the card to provide temporary accommodation for a senior diplomat who was relocating from Australia to France until they could find a permanent home.
A Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “The department and missions abroad comply with public procurement rules when purchasing goods and services. Mission credit cards are used where it is more efficient to process the payment to a vendor electronically.”