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We’re watching you: public to keep eye on state cars

Twitter users to track any misuse of cabinet fleet.
Oct 30th 2010, 1:04 PM 592 0

MEMBERS OF THE public are being encouraged to ‘name and shame’ those who misuse ministerial cars.

Trinity College finance professor Brian Lucey this afternoon urged Twitter users to report any incidences of Mercs which veer off course and are used for non-state purposes like party political events, funerals or recreation.

Speaking to TheJournal this afternoon, Lucey said: “People are very, very annoyed about this issue, and rightly so.

“And I was browsing around the papers this morning and it was interesting to see Stephen Collins’ article in the Irish Times saying, ‘they don’t get it’.

“And later I saw reference to [Brian] Cowen evading the issue at a meeting in Limerick last night. And it really brought it home.

“I’ve no problem with the head of state or arguably the minter for  justice having it on security grounds – and even retired heads of state, there’s security issues there too. But these people should absolutely not be driven around,” he added.

“Wearing another of my hats I’m involved in the Sallins and Nass rail-users group and we’ve been trying – unsuccessfully really -  to get our local TDs to take the train, and in particular Deputy Áine Brady who lives in the area, to get the train in and out to work every day.

“Not that the service is particularly bad but there’s problems and we’ve always wanted them to walk in our shoes for  week or so. But they wouldn’t even engage with the issue. So this is something I’ve been irritated about for years,” he said.

Lucey says the use of the social networking site Twitter can be a useful tool.

“We’ve all heard the stories about dogs being driving around – down to Kerry or wherever. And wives’ hats chauffeured about town; there was a report this morning on politics.ie of a minister’s grandchild being driven to riding lessons.

“And this shouldn’t include party political issues either – people shouldn’t be brought down to Clare at our expense to meet party activists. Let’s name and shame; let people know if you see a car on non-ministerial business – with the hash tag #carwatch.”

Brian Cowen, earlier, endured another rough night out – as he got an earful on the hot-button topic of the state cars.

The Taoiseach faced vociferous criticism at the aforementioned meeting of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association in Limerick.

A delegate from Cowen’s own constituency in Offaly was angered over ministers’ use of state cars, while his ‘nasally congested’ Morning Ireland radio interview at a recent Fianna Fáil think-in at a Galway hotel also came in for criticism.

Eamon McManus showed his anger at the Government with support from the floor of the meeting.

Ye’re paying yereselves too much. [Do] you think that’s right and fair, do you?

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