A few months back, I requested copies of the statements for all road tolls incurred by Minister Leo Varadkar since his appointment in May.
The Department released the overall cost, saying it had come to just over €900 from May of last year to the end of November.
They said that Mr Varadkar had also repaid an element of it, €150, as a personal contribution of some description.
Why he does that, they did not explain.
Nor did they give the full statements. Instead, they released them month by month with all the details of what tolls were actually incurred blanked out.
And they have explained this by citing an exemption in FOI law that its release could “prejudice the security of a vehicle”.
In a follow-up press query, I asked them for a percentage of how much of the overall toll charges related to the use of the Dublin Port Tunnel.
I did not ask them for days of the week, times of the day or anything like that, just how much of it related to one road.
(Just as a by the way, Minister Varadkar actually signed into law a rule change that allowed him and other ministers to use bus lanes. This was because when they abolished the state car system, they accidentally abolished that right by extension. Also, important to point out that Mr Varadkar actually opposed the change.)
Anyway, this is how the Department responded when asked how much was spent on the Port Tunnel:
“The Minister makes an annual contribution towards the cost of tolls, as he has done in previous Departments. The contribution covers the cost of any tolls incurred for personal use. The Department does not disclose details of individual journeys for security reasons.”
Remember that ministerial diaries are routinely released, TDs must give their home address on their notice of poll.
Another small example of the level of transparency that Irish journalists deal with every day.
The FOI documents below: