John O’Donoghue theatre tickets and Martin Cullen’s trip to the Ryder Cup

These are the two Ministerial expenses stories that largely slipped under the radar in recent times.

The first involves John O’Donoghue’s trip to New York where €28,000 was spent in four days between himself, his wife, his private secretary and another senior civil servant.

This does not feature in the larger O’Donoghue FOI because this trip was paid for by Tourism Ireland.

One of the difficulties in divining the exact nature of Ministerial travel expenditure is the fact that it could be paid for by the Department itself, the Department of Foreign Affairs and most pertinently, any of the State or semi-State bodies under the general control of that government Department.

Another story that slipped by largely under the radar is the 20-odd grand spent by Minister Martin Cullen and a number of officials on a trip to the Ryder Cup last year.

Mr Cullen stayed in an $800 a night hotel and flights alone for himself and two civil servants came to more than €14,000.

One spurious defence offered by supporters of John O’Donoghue is that the country could at least afford it when he was on his travels. No such excuse can be made for the Ryder Cup trip, which took place just last September as the economy went into freefall.

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