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Ireland Leo Varadkar signed off on former Taoisigh special support plan four months after taking office

06:20  14 december  2019
06:20  14 december  2019 Source:   thejournal.ie

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Leo Varadkar TD is the current Taoiseach; he took office on 14 June 2017,[ 4 ] following his election as leader of Fine Gael on 2 June 2017.[5] Varadkar is the youngest Taoiseach in the history of the Irish state, having taken office at There are four living former taoisigh as of December 2019: Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach (plural: Taoisigh ) is the head of government (or prime minister) of Ireland. By convention Taoisigh are numbered to include Cosgrave,[1][2][3][ 4 ] for example Leo Varadkar is considered the 14th Taoiseach not the 13th.

Leo Varadkar wearing a suit and tie

LEO VARADKAR PERSONALLY signed off on a plan to give former Taoisigh special supports – including VIP airport facilities, increased use of state cars, and the salary of a full-time secretary – just four months after he took office.

Varadkar was told the decision would cost up to €300,000 a year if all Taoisigh took advantage of the full suite of entitlements.

Former Taoisigh include Enda Kenny, Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and John Bruton.

The move took place in October 2017 while Varadkar had only taken up office in June.

The document – obtained under FOI – explained the system of supports for former Taoisigh had been introduced in August 2001 but discontinued in March of 2012.

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OPPOSITION PARTIES HAVE criticised An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and asked him to clarify Varadkar spoke about what happened at a special luncheon at Capitol Hill in Washington DC today I thought this can’t be the case, this must be a piss- take by one of my staff members,” Varadkar said.

In coming out, Varadkar , one of the few ethnic minority figures in Irish politics (his father is Indian) Varadkar ’s rise, as a mixed-raced, gay politician in a country where homosexuality was only (He does not support abortion on request, the recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly set up to help

“It would seem reasonable that a former Taoiseach should have access to supports (administrative and otherwise) to support him/her carrying out aspects of work associated with his/her former role which remain after [their] period in office has ceased,” it said.

The memo said that the estimated cost of reintroducing the scheme would be “in the region of €300k” if all ex-Taoisigh availed of it.

“The funding requirement can be met within existing resources,” it said.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Ken Foxe

Other countries

In putting forward the proposal, the memo said that other countries had much more generous regimes in place for former prime ministers.

In the UK, former leaders can draw down a “public duties cost allowance” worth around €130,000 per annum to help fund an office and secretarial support.

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Taoisigh always embarrass themselves with one or even more mad figaries. Whatever about the former , one could hardly blame a Taoiseach already marinated in arrogance for expecting to secure the heads Our man behind the bar will eschew cynicism and note it just shows how efficient the plan is.

Based on the profile of past Taoisigh , Leo Varadkar is perhaps an unlikely leader of an Irish government. A TD for only ten years prior to becoming But having avoided an early general election a mere six months after being elected Taoiseach, Varadkar ’s comment on de Valera at the launch of

In Australia, office space, phones, printing services, a car and limousine travel for official events are available while in New Zealand, ex-PMs are entitled to “unlimited free domestic flights, a chauffeur-driven limousine or a self-drive car (with a new car provided every 60,000 kilometres”.

VIP airport facilities

a screenshot of a cell phone © Ken Foxe

The re-introduced scheme in Ireland would offer support in six areas, according to the memo.

VIP airport facilities would be provided “prior to departure and on landing”. They said this would match up with what is available to the Taoiseach and former Presidents.

The memo said: “[They’re available] as part of a standing arrangement between the Department … and the Dublin Airport Authority. It is proposed to extend these facilities to former Taoisigh.”

Support when travelling abroad would also be made available, although details of what this would involve are scant in the documents.

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In the month before Varadkar took office , unemployment fell to a nine-year low of 6.2%. In a recent paper for conservative think tank the Policy Exchange, former Irish diplomat Ray Bassett wrote that “Irexit is a definite option for Ireland, should the U.K. and the E.U. not arrive at a satisfactory deal.”

In the 1970s, plans were made to turn the former Apostolic Nunciature (formerly the Under Secretary's Lodge) in the In 2006, it was announced by the Office of Public Works that the Steward's Lodge had been renovated, at a cost of nearly €600 "Farmleigh lodge planned as residence for future taoisigh ".

If a former Taoiseach needed help when travelling abroad “to carry out aspects of work associated with his/her former role”, they would be put in touch with the local Embassy or Consulate to get the “appropriate supports”.

Transport arrangements for former Taoisigh were also to be enhanced as part of the plan.

The former leaders were already entitled to transport to and from “important state functions” but this would be extended to up to five other events associated with their former role during a calendar year.

The most costly part of the proposal was the provision of secretarial support to help the ex-Taoisigh with aspects of work linked to their old role.

“Salary costs will be met by the Department of the Taoiseach up to the maximum of the Higher Executive Officer … scale (currently €55,329).”

The ex-Taoisigh would be allowed to recruit, select, and appoint their own assistant and would be allowed to invoice for the costs of using a recruitment agency to find somebody suitable.

The secretarial assistant is prohibited however, from engaging in “constituency or active party political work”, according to the memo.

A liaison officer for the former Taoisigh would also be appointed who could act as “a single point of contact” for all requests for support.

This would include the provision of briefing and or research material on the government’s policy position on issues of public debate.

Approval

The memo was sent to Leo Varadkar on 23 October 2017 by the department’s Secretary General Martin Fraser with a hand-written note saying: “For your approval.”

A day later, the Taoiseach signed off on it with a single word: “Approved.”

In a statement, a department spokesman said: “Former taoisigh receive support in carrying out work associated with their former role which remain after their period in office has ceased.”

He said the supports were available “on request only”. The spokesman added: “It is entirely a matter for each individual former Taoiseach as to whether they avail of any of the supports available to them now or at any stage in the future.”

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