News & Media

Request for State Car made by former Taoiseach but when did it happen?

29 July 2020

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services
  • Who is actually in charge, and when was request made by Varadkar?

Following the latest revelations about the allocation of a State car to the Minister for Foreign Affairs made on the request of the former Taoiseach, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said:

“In the Dáil today I questioned the Taoiseach again as to whether he has aware that on the 28th June, the day after he took office, the Secretary General to the Government, who runs the Department of Taoiseach, had contacted the Secretary General of the Department of Justice as to whether it was appropriate on security grounds for Minister Coveney to retain his Garda driver. This was then communicated to An Garda Síochána and a State car costing €200,000 a year retained by the now former Tánaiste on security grounds without a Cabinet decision.

“In response to my question, Deputy Martin told me in the Dáil today that the communication happened before he became Taoiseach. He also confirmed that the Government did not make any decision in relation to it, and that he didn’t get involved in any security appraisal.

“What has now been revealed by the Irish Independent is that the request to ensure the Minister for Foreign Affairs retained his State car was made by the former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

“It’s not clear if this request was made before or after a new government was appointed. But we do know that the Secretary to the Government when the query was made on Sunday 28th was according to the current Taoiseach acting on the instruction of a former Taoiseach rather than the new Taoiseach. This is an incredible series of events.

“How can a Secretary General act on a request that isn’t from the current Taoiseach and why did Taoiseach Martin say that it happened before he took office?

“If the request was made before a new government was formed, then the outgoing Taoiseach made a decision for a future government, and the allocation of a State car to a Minister in a Government that hadn’t been formed yet?

“The Minister for Justice was also left totally in the dark about the calls to her Secretary General and then the Garda Commissioner.

“The Secretary General of her Department did not inform the Minister and the Commissioner rang to tell the Minister he had made a decision about something she wasn’t previously aware of but he could not tell her the actual decision.

“All this raises the question of who is in charge? Who is the actual Taoiseach?

“It would now appear a State car was pre-allocated to a Minister that hadn’t been appointed yet without any direction from the actual Taoiseach of the country, or any Cabinet decision. The only outcome that appears to have mattered was that the former Tánaiste would retain his State car.

“The government decision of 2011 to abolish State cars with Garda drivers for all but the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice still stands. Minister Coveney is also on the record in 2010 that he would not accept a state car.”