Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994

Vol. 443 No. 5

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Foreign Visits.

Jim Mitchell


1 Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Taoiseach his foreign travel plans for the remainder of 1994; and the purpose of each of these trips.

Jim Mitchell


2 Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Taoiseach the total number of foreign trips he has undertaken in the 27 months since 11 February 1992, when he was first elected Taoiseach; the cost of each trip; the total cost of all trips; if, by way of tabular statement, he will give the purpose or purposes of each such trip and the persons who accompanied him whose expenses were paid out of public funds; and the comparative figures for the trips undertaken by his predecessor in his last 27 months as Taoiseach.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together. In accordance with normal practice, details of my visits abroad will be announced at the appropriate time and as the details are confirmed.

Since taking office in February 1992, I have made 29 visits abroad at a total estimated cost of £250,000. My predecessor undertook 27 visits abroad in 1990 and 1991 at a total estimated cost of £200,000 — its present equivalent, taking inflation into account, would be £220,000.

I consider that extracting the detailed figures as requested would serve no useful purpose.

Is the Taoiseach aware that many people believe he and his Ministers make far too many trips abroad at a cost to the State without any obvious benefit? Will he assure the House that all trips are for official purposes and that no private or commercial business is transacted by him or any member of his group while abroad?

Deputy Mitchell is one of the few who do not appreciate the maximum selling of Ireland abroad. It has always been the policy of Government Ministers to sell Ireland abroad. I make no apologies for being very active in that regard and I will continue to do so. I visited Chicago three times in seven months and I am sure the Deputy has heard the result of my last visit in the past few days. If we can attract companies such as Motorola, creating more than 2,000 jobs, and Abbott Laboratories — two of the companies I visited while in Chicago — I am sure the Irish public would think it very worthwhile to continue to make such visits.

I am not amused by the fact that the Taoiseach did not answer the question I asked. Will he give a categorical assurance that during his visits abroad neither he nor any member of his group has discussed private or commercial business pertaining to the Taoiseach or members of his family?

Or pertaining to passports.

I would have thought we had enough attempts at bringing my family into discussions in this House. I stated the position clearly this morning and Deputy Mitchell is somewhat disingenuous in trying to bring the matter up at Question Time. I appreciate he is going up for election on 9 June, but I will not oblige.

The Taoiseach has not taken the opportunity to tell this House categorically that he never once discussed private and commercial business while on State visits paid for out of State funds. Will he now give that assurance to the House?

Deputy Mitchell need have no concerns in that regard. I categorically state that I have never in my ministerial or prime-ministerial duties abroad made an attempt in any shape or form to discuss the business of C & D Foods. I hope that is satisfactory to the Deputy.

Following the Taoiseach's last visit to the United States I raised in this House his discussions with Motorola. On behalf of my constituents I express my gratitude to him for his wonderful work in bringing 2,600 jobs to the town of Swords and——

The Deputy is trying to bring himself back into good odour again.

——encourage him not to forget Fingal in his next visits abroad. Towns such as Balbriggan would welcome a similar type project.

A sting in the tail.

I appreciate the Taoiseach's efforts, as do the people of north County Dublin.

Hear, hear.

I hope the comment of Deputy Owen is on the record.

I hope it is.

I want the Taoiseach to go further than he has in his replies so far. I will repeat my question.

That is a luxury we cannot afford at Question Time.

Will the Taoiseach categorically guarantee that no private or commercial business was discussed by him about C & D Foods or any other commercial business owned by him or his family while abroad?

The Deputy has already put that question to the Taoiseach and received a reply.

Will the Taoiseach answer yes or no? He has refused to give the House that assurance.

I have answered the question. The Deputy is looking for another issue, but he should not try that again.