Leo's trade mission to US cost Irish taxpayer €50,000 including €75 bottles of wine

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© Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photo Agency, Dublin
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

The IDA spent around €50,000 on a US trade mission which included bookings at a string of four-star hotels, business class flights, and fine dining bills.

An event at a plush restaurant in California catering for 22 people ended up costing more than €7,000 with four bottles of €75 wine charged to the tab and a €135 per person set menu.

The travelling delegation – led by now-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – was booked into a series of four-star hotels including the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, and the Stanford Park Hotel in Silicon Valley.

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An official dinner at Selby’s Restaurant in Redwood City cost €5,400 with a further €1,648 spent on flowers and room rental fees, according to records released under FOI.

The dining bill included what were described as “20 IDA Menus” at a cost of €2,700 as well as three bottles of wine from Turnbull Wine Cellars costing a combined €185.

Five bottles of Mount Riley Pinot Noir set the Irish taxpayer back €328, with a further €300 spent on four bottles of Averaen Chardonnay.

The bill included a 20% service charge of €900 “in lieu of [a] gratuity” according to a copy of the receipt from the restaurant.

The IDA said they had spent €15,875 on transatlantic flights for the trip with €11,188 spent on hotel accommodation in several West Coast cities and just over €13,100 paid for transport services for the six-strong delegation.

During the trip, the then-Tanaiste Varadkar awarded Google with a special recognition award for their contribution to the Irish economy.

Transportation bills included rental of a sport utility vehicle at a cost of €120 per hour as well as minibus rental at the rate of €196 an hour. There was also a €614 business breakfast bill from the Menlo Tavern at the Stanford Park Hotel where the Irish delegation were staying.

The costs were not confined to the IDA with Enterprise Ireland also paying out €26,000 for nine of their staff to work on the trade mission.

That included flight costs of €8,825, hotel bills of €4,351, meals costing €516, and taxi bills of €1,554. A bill of €7,700 was also run up in event hosting costs.

A spokesman for the IDA said: “IDA Ireland organised this trade/investment mission to the US West Coast [during April] in partnership with Enterprise Ireland.

“The mission was attended by Leo Varadkar, who was accompanied by [then] IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.

“Meetings with senior leaders of global IDA client companies employing tens of thousands of people in Ireland, companies who have repeatedly reinvested millions in their Irish operations, took place on this mission.”


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