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Minister Brendan Howlin speaking ahead of the Cabinet meeting this morning. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Howlin: Paying travel costs for spouses 'not the pattern' of this government

The minister’s comments come after a suggestion by the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that a case could be made for the State to foot the bill.

MINISTER FOR PUBLIC Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said that it is not the pattern of the current administration for the State to pay for ministers’ spouses to accompany them on foreign trips.

His comments came after a suggestion yesterday by Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinnness, that a case could be made for the costs to be covered.

Speaking ahead of the Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings this morning, Howlin said he didn’t think that was ever the pattern and stressed that “it’s not the norm or the pattern for this administration.”

The minster said McGuinness “made his own explanation and people can draw their own conclusions”.

When asked if he thought McGuinness should resign from his position over the comments, Howlin said that would be a matter for the committee itself.

“He has a very important role to play,” he said. “That committee is probably the foremost committee of the house and we’re getting further power to the committee under legislation I’m bringing in now.”

Howlin also said that he thought it important that the work of the executive be separate from that of committees and that is why it should be left to the PAC to “make determinations on the suitability of an individual”.

Read: FF leader stands by McGuinness as Kenny brands him ‘damaging’ to politics>
Video: Spending watchdog chair ‘should resign’ over spouse travel remarks>

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