A FIANNA Fáil TD who has a substantial property portfolio with interests in at least 30 houses and apartments ran up a personal expenses bill of more than €137,000 in less than two years as a junior minister.

Frank Fahey and his wife Ethelle amassed a bill exceeding €56,000 in 21 months, purely for air travel, it has emerged. Fahey was junior minister in the department of health at the time and made costly trips to China, New Zealand, Argentina and the US (twice). His wife accompanied him on five of these trips and the cost of her flights ranged from €4,298 to as much as €7,545, according to records. The records were obtained from the Department of Health under a Freedom of Information request and cover only half of Fahey's time there.

The department confirmed that the "original copies of claims with relevant receipts and bills" have now been destroyed and only an incomplete electronic list now remains. It said all such receipts were destroyed as a matter of routine after seven years "in line with common accounting practice".

Details of where Fahey stayed, what class of travel was used, or the names of transport companies involved, will never be publicly known. The €137,482 total does not include the cost of hotels or car hire in most cases and those figures are now unavailable forever.

The most costly trip of all was in December 1999 when the minister and his wife flew to Buenos Aires for the inauguration of the president-elect. Flights for Fahey and his wife, who travelled on behalf of the department of foreign affairs, cost €15,090. No other costs are available apart from €1,236 in travel, subsistence and other expenses.

In October 1999, Fahey went to New Orleans for the Celtic Nations Heritage Festival in the company of his wife. Two flights for the couple came to almost €8,600 with another €1,155 paid out in other categories.

According to the latest register, he owns two apartments in Roscommon, two apartments in Galway, a house in Kildare and two houses in Galway. Fahey also says he has a share in an apartment in Galway, properties in Athlone, four apartments and a shop in Limerick, properties in Gort, a house in Dubai, an apartment in Boston, 15 apartments in Brussels, an apartment in Limerick, a house in France and an apartment in Dublin. He has also paid deposits on two properties in Portugal.