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'No plans' to dispose of government jet - which last government said it would scrap

Alan Shatter says there are no plans to get rid of the Gulfstream jet – which Tony Killeen said was to be phased out.

The Irish government's Gulfstream IV jet will be used for some years to come, despite pledges by the previous government to phase it out.
The Irish government's Gulfstream IV jet will be used for some years to come, despite pledges by the previous government to phase it out.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE FINE GAEL-LABOUR government says it has no intention to get rid of either of Ireland’s two government jets – even though the previous government had made plans to dispose of one of them.

Defence minister Alan Shatter has insisted that there are no plans to get rid of either the Gulfstream or Learjet planes, even though his Fianna Fáil predecessor Tony Killeen had said funding shortages meant the former jet would be phased out.

The two jets, between them, comprise the Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS) – but the Gulfstream, which is around 20 years old, had been earmarked for abandonment in the last Budget introduced by Brian Lenihan in December 2010.

At that case, Killeen said no provision had been made for cash to replace, repair or upgrade the Gulfstream jet – and said the Learjet would be the sole vehicle available for ministers.

Now, however, his successor Shatter says there are no plans to scrap the jet, which had a market price of around IR£25 million in the late 1990s.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Michael Healy-Rae, Shatter said the two jets were not only used for ministerial travel, but were also deployed on air ambulance missions, humanitarian operations and support for search-and-rescue and mountain rescue operations.

“The flexibility that these aircraft provide will also be particularly valuable during Ireland’s upcoming Presidency of the European Union,” Shatter said.

“There are no plans at present to dispose of either aircraft, and ultimately any decision in this regard will be a matter for Government.”

The present government, upon taking office, said it would phase back the use of the government jets and encourage ministers to take commercial transport to overseas engagements wherever possible.

Previously: Ministers using government jets ‘like their own personal taxi service’

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Gavan Reilly

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