Well-travelled: John O'Donoghue and his wife Kate Ann

FOR someone who is not employed by the state and has never stood for election, Kate Ann O'Donoghue has done remarkably well out of the Irish taxpayer.

During the seven-year period in which her husband has served as Ceann Comhairle and earlier at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, she has enjoyed a globe-trotting itinerary that would make even a seasoned travel writer blush.

In the latest round of expense claims, it has emerged that Kate Ann O'Donoghue has also been using internal flights to carry out her duties as first lady of the Irish Dáil.

Of 186 internal flights booked on behalf of the O'Donoghues by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, Mrs O'Donoghue is listed as a passenger on 44 of them.

The estimated cost is relatively small, however, coming in at around €3,000 as she winged her way to official functions and Dublin Airport for connecting flights.

Costs for her other travels are far more significant and details of overseas travel since her husband was appointed Ceann Comhairle reveal yet another litany of trips by Mrs O'Donoghue.

In October 2007, she headed off to Paris on a flight costing €762 enjoying VIP facilities on the way and staying at the luxurious Hotel Raphael in the French capital.

The following March, she was off again, this time to Houston, New Orleans and Washington DC for St Patrick's Day celebrations.

In April, Mrs O'Donoghue headed for South Africa on a flight costing more than €5,000 where her husband was attending an anti-poverty conference.

By October, she was Paris-bound again, this time for the presentation of awards and an enjoyable day at the races in Longchamps.

It was a pattern that had been replicated time and again in the five years in which John O'Donoghue was 'Minister for Fun' at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Kate Ann O'Donoghue had been on the notorious trip to Venice, the one with the €250 water taxis and the €5,834 hotel dining bill at the city's three famous hotels: the Albergo San Marco, the Hotel Cipriani and the San Clemente Palace.

Mrs O'Donoghue had also been to Cheltenham repeatedly and has enjoyed some of the most luxurious hotels in Europe, staying twice in the €900 a night Montfleury Hotel in Cannes.