Will O'Donoghue pay back the money?

OVER the course of the past two months, the Sunday Tribune has tabled dozens of questions to both the Ceann Comhairle's office and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Apart from a blanket response from the department, which failed to answer any specific queries, there have been no answers to any questions.

The Ceann Comhairle's office will not deal with any queries and instead told the Sunday Tribune to refer all queries through Freedom of Information legislation.

When we did that, John O'Donoghue then decided that he would place all of the requested records in the Dáil library and he proposed to do just that last week in an effort to avoid yet more criticism of his expenditure.

Amongst the unanswered questions are:

* Was it within departmental guidelines to pay for a €645 meal at the Hotel Cipriani and what official business did this include?

* Was it within departmental guidelines to pay for sleeping tablets as part of a trip to India by the minister?

* Was it within guidelines to pay for first-class travel, particularly with regards to a €9,000-per-person flight to China?

* Was it appropriate to pay for theatre tickets on three successive nights for use by O'Donoghue, his wife and companions?

* Under whose invitation did O'Donoghue attend race meetings at Cheltenham, Aintree, Ascot and Longchamp?

* Was it appropriate for O'Donoghue's wife to travel overseas to accompany him to EU committee meetings?

* Why was it necessary to provide transport for the minister and his wife to take them from one airport terminal to another?

* Did the Irish taxpayer get a good deal in terms of car hire when in excess of €10,000 was paid for use of a car during the Cheltenham racing

* Was it appropriate for the taxpayer to pay €180 for hat hire for the minister and his travelling companions to attend a race meeting in England?

* Was it an appropriate use of the government jet for the minister to fly from Cannes to Kerry for a constituency event and then on to Cardiff for a Heineken Cup match?

* Under whose invitation did the Ceann Comhairle travel to Paris and did he attend the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp?

* How much has the Ceann Comhairle spent on overseas travel since his appointment to that office?

* How many flights have been booked for travel within Ireland for O'Donoghue or travelling companions?

* Can the Ceann Comhairle explain how the Sunday Tribune has "fundamentally misled" the Irish people in light of his two apologies last week?

* Is the Ceann Comhairle prepared to expand further when he says articles published so far were "totally inaccurate, exaggerated and disingenuous"?

* Why does a second Freedom of Information request regarding overseas travel contain just four pages when a previous one – under the exact same terms – yielded over 100 pages?

* Does the minister or his wife intend to pay back any of the costs involved in their overseas travel?