A COMMITMENT by Taoiseach Brian Cowen to publish a monthly round-up of his overseas travel expenses lasted just five months, it has emerged.

Cowen made the promise last September that his expense documents would be made publicly available from that time on, and had put a series of five monthly updates online. However, the last set of cost details appeared on the departmental website on 10 February and there has been no further information since then.

Cowen made the decision to publish his details because of growing public controversy over expenses, particularly following the resignation of ceann comhairle John O'Donoghue.

He explained at the time: "In order to promote further transparency, I have instructed my officials to publish reports on travel expenses on the department's website on an ongoing basis from now on, beginning this month."

A spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said her office would have to speak to the staff involved in updating the website about the matter before making a comment.

The last set of records made available relate to payments made in January of this year, mostly for travel that was undertaken late last summer and autumn.

It detailed more than €2,800 worth of chauffeur-car charges on a visit to Brussels for an EU Council meeting and a trip to New York for a climate change summit.

A hotel charge of €544.97 for Cowen and the same amount for his security detail was also listed for the Fairmont Wharf Hotel in Boston. The Taoiseach had been attending the funeral of US senator Ted Kennedy at the time.

The report also contained details of a €500-a-night room charge at the Radisson Hotel in Brussels in October and a bill for €403 with Cartel Direct Limousines for a transfer from RAF Northolt in London to the city centre.

Previous expense bulletins show that the use of VIP facilities and expensive car hire arrangements is continuing. A sum of €469 was spent on an airport lounge in August of last year with another €1,408 spent on chauffeur cars.

Despite strong indications last year that a number of government departments would begin to publish expense details online, the Taoiseach was the only one who proceeded with the plan.

Cowen has defended overseas travel expenditure saying that certain costs are necessary to conduct "international business and diplomatic relations effectively".