THE Office of Public Works is paying over €3,000 per year for parking spaces for some government employees, figures have revealed.
The massive costs are part of €10.6m spent annually so that civil service bosses and other senior public servants can bring their cars to work and avoid the ignominy of public transport.
Many of the lease agreements were also fixed in the Celtic Tiger era and cannot now be renegotiated despite a drop in the going rate for a prime parking spot.
The civil servants pay nothing towards the spaces, which are available not just during work hours but frequently at weekends also.
The treasured spots are regarded as one of the major perks of many government jobs and any attempt to cut back on their number would likely cause major unrest.
The most expensive spaces are in Dublin Airport, where just 14 parking spots are leased each year at an annual cost of €44,440, the equivalent of €3,174 each.
Next dearest were the 74 spaces leased in Dublin 4, which each cost €2,765 annually – a total of €204,645.
The cheapest spaces were in Tubercurry, Co Sligo, where 84 spaces are costing just €4,200, the equivalent of €50 each per year.
A total of 5,766 spaces have been leased around the country by the Office of Public Works at an average cost of €1,848.
The majority, some 3,684 parking spots, are being leased in Dublin where the average cost to the taxpayer is €2,542 per annum.
Another 2,082 spaces are rented in regional locations, where the average cost is substantially lower, coming in at just €445 per space per year.
The Office of Public Works said that no new parking had been rented or purchased in 2009.
A spokesman said: "Leases are reviewed and negotiated according to their terms and conditions."
At least some of the cost of providing free space for civil servants' cars will be recouped when a new levy on parking is introduced.
The controversial measure was due to come into effect almost 18 months ago but has been delayed because of countless loopholes not originally envisaged.
Revenue officials had difficulty putting together a system that would not seem unfair or force people into parking on residential streets.
The €200 levy when collected will go a good way to paying for some of the OPW spots but would barely pay for a month's worth of car parking at the most expensive spot in Dublin Airport.