The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism has insisted that international travel is part of a minister's job and that all expenses were legitimate.

An explanatory statement released to the Sunday Tribune along with the latest expenses details said: "The purpose of ministerial travel at all times is to deliver economic benefits to the country. For example, the presence of a government minister is seen as very beneficial to underline the Irish government's commitment and support for world-class events (such as the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, World Rally Championships) which have major revenue-generating potential for the country.

"It is also the case that ministers, given the nature of the brief, travel abroad to high-profile events such as Venice Biennale, the Olympics, the World Cup matches, all of which are regarded as contributing to the promotion of Ireland as a tourism destination and a venue for international sports events.

"The costs of flights and accommodation for such events invariably involve a high premium worldwide. The cost of facilities at airports is on the basis of fees charged at a standard rate."

The department admitted there was a difficulty in putting together records for before 2006 as a different financial system was in place.

A statement said: "The financial records on the department's former financial system are not available in a manner that makes them easy to access or identify. This should not be taken, however, to imply any shortcomings in the department's financial accounting systems that comply fully with all government financial procedures."