Eamon Ryan: hired bicycle for €100 and then spent over €1,000 on car hire during trip to far east

GREEN minister Eamon Ryan charged €100 for bike hire on a trip to South Korea and Japan, but then used a car-hire service that cost €1,188.

The trip, for the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, his special adviser and five civil servants, cost €55,342 in total, according to records of his expense claims.

The communications minister spent seven nights in the far east, where his hotel costs at the Coex in Seoul and the Okura in Japan came to €2,483.

Ryan's airline ticket cost €4,818 while an airport welcome-service provided at a VIP lounge on his journey cost €263.50.

Other expenses on the trip included mobile phone rental of €348, interpretation services costing €2,975 and business card printing for €100.

Ryan also made a personal claim of more than €940 for subsistence and for expenses incurred during the trip.

Ryan's share of the total bill for the seven-day trip came in at €13,305.69.

The minister's flight bill was almost exactly the same as the civil servants who travelled with him but his hotel charges were slightly higher.

In the Hotel Okura in Japan, he ran up a bill of €1,659 compared to just €846 for his private secretary.

Ryan journeyed abroad on 13 occasions in 2008, which aside from the trip to Korea and Japan involved official travel in Britain and Europe.

Ryan's trip to South Korea and Japan accounted for more than half of his total annual travel bill of €97,241, according to records from the Department of Communications.

Next most expensive was a trip to Denmark for the minister, his special adviser and three civil servants that cost €10,339.53.

Ryan's flight cost €936, while his hotel costs for two nights came to €743. Other expenses incurred on the trip included €167 for an 'airport welcome service' and €2,023 for transport hire.

Often, aspects of the minister's overseas travel were inexpensive and on one trip to Brussels, Ryan's flight cost just €124.

On arrival in the Belgian capital however, much of the savings went to waste as he stayed in a hotel that cost €491 for a single night's accommodation.

During a trip to Edinburgh in September 2008, Ryan did even better and his flight for that official visit cost €76, enough to make even Michael O'Leary proud.

His former colleague at the department, junior minister Tony Killeen, also ran up a significant travel bill last year, venturing abroad on three occasions with costs for him and his advisers coming in at €40,354.

A trip to Washington for Killeen and two civil servants ended up costing €15,963 with €4,041 spent on the minister's flight.