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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 24 May, 2019
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Cabinet to lose ministerial Mercs and Garda drivers

All but three members of the cabinet will have to supply their own cars in future – while former Taoisigh also lose official cars.

Just three of the current cabinet - Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, and Alan Shatter - will have state-supplied cars from May 1 onward.
Just three of the current cabinet - Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, and Alan Shatter - will have state-supplied cars from May 1 onward.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

THE NEW GOVERNMENT has decided to cut back on ministerial transport arrangements, with all but three members of the cabinet being forced to supply their own cars from May.

This morning’s cabinet meeting decided that only the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality would still be given a State-supplied car with a full-time Garda driver – with all other members of the government having to stump up for their own cars in future.

Other ministers would still be given drivers, under the new regime that takes effect on May 1, but the car will have to be supplied by the minister themselves – in line with the arrangements already in effect for junior ministers.

Former Taoisigh – including Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen – and former Presidents will also lose their automatic right to an official state-supplied car and a Garda driver, except when they are required in line with important State occasions.

The President, Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions are the only other people who retain a State car with a full-time Garda at the wheel.

In a statement, a government spokesman said that those three, as well as the three exempted ministers – currently Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, and Alan Shatter – required the use of a Garda driver for security reasons.

The new moves will produce “very substantial savings”, the statement added, explaining that Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett and attorney general Máire Whelan will also lose their full-time drivers and state-supplied cars, and will have to produce their own vehicles in future.

In the case of the former Taoisigh and of former president Mary Robinson, the new transport arrangements come into effect in three months’ time.

The cabinet also decided to cut the maximum permitted number of staff in the private and constituency offices of ministers and junior ministers.

Ministers will now have a maximum of eight staff in their private offices, and four in their constituency offices – reduced from ten and six respectively.

Junior ministers will see the same staffing numbers cut from seven and five respectively, to five and three respectively.

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Gavan Reilly

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