TÁNAISTE Mary Coughlan stayed at a €640-a-night Parisian hotel for two days last June as 600 jobs were lost in Ireland.
Coughlan enjoyed the luxurious surroundings of the Hotel Westminster on a trip paid for by state body Enterprise Ireland as finance minister Brian Lenihan admitted a rise in unemployment to 10.2% was "very serious".
The jobs situation was only getting darker as chocolate makers Cadbury sought 200 job cuts, a major car dealership closed with the loss of 190 jobs and ABB Electrical Components in Waterford announced plans to shut its doors, putting 178 people out of work.
Meanwhile, the costs at the Hotel Westminster in Paris were running up, with €1,280 charged for Coughlan's accommodation and further bills of €200 for a "group breakfast" and €98 for a dinner, also listed on her bill.
As the Tánaiste settled in to her room at the palatial hotel, her government colleagues found themselves under severe pressure.
A damning report by the IMF had just described Ireland as the most overheated of all advanced economies and Taoiseach Brian Cowen was forced to admit the welfare system was under severe pressure because of the numbers who were out of work.
The Paris trip was one of seven paid for by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the minister since she took office at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
In all, Enterprise Ireland has paid €42,984 for Coughlan's travel, which does not include the cost of the government jet.
On one of the trips, the Tánaiste travelled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the government's Gulfstream IV at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of almost €135,000.
During a trade mission to Dubai and Saudi Arabia in November 2008, Coughlan travelled business class at a cost of €2,466, according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Once there, she stayed at the €764-a-night Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai where her total accommodation bill came to almost €3,000.
Significant transport costs of €4,015 were also incurred on the trip with a further €850 paid out in "airport charges" for VIP services.
In April of this year, Enterprise Ireland was making some effort to keep costs down when the Tánaiste travelled to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
While in Riyadh, Coughlan stayed at the Marriott Hotel, where the cost of her room for two nights came to €702, which included a €30 bar bill and a small laundry charge.
A further two-night stay at the Ramada Plaza in Doha cost just €442 but a bill for more than €3,000 at Bentley's Grill Food is also listed under "Coughlan".
During Coughlan's trip to Paris, a chauffeur bill of €1,136 was also incurred, while a fee of €95 was paid for a cancelled flight.
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This is a total disgrace! Look at the list of expenses outlined in the Sunday indo yesterday...these people are getting more in travel expenses than most of us are earning and we are taking paycuts by the month!! Why are we not protesting in the streets to get rid of this incompetent Government once and for all. I always thought the Irish had a backbone and fought for what they believed in but alas we are not made like we were in the past....