Smile... photos of Enda cost you €31k
HE has often been accused of acting a bit cheesy -- but Enda Kenny has been saying 'cheese' more than anyone could have expected.
Just a week after the Herald detailed the photography bill clocked up by Minister Leo Varadkar's department, new figures reveal that Mr Kenny's department spent almost €31,000 on photography since he became Taoiseach. And the tab is being picked up by the taxpayer.
The Taoiseach told Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin that the costs were well down on the €83,298 spent in 2008 by the previous government.
The total photography bill for 2009 and 2010 has yet to be disclosed.
Mr Kenny added that the Government was making efficiencies and that his own departmental staff took photos to cut costs.
The Taoiseach appears to have taken advantage of the June sunshine, having clocked up over €14,000 in that month alone.
While he shared a joke on the costs in the Dail last night, one deputy today said it was "no laughing matter".
Fianna Fail Environment spokesperson Niall Collins said: "Just three weeks ago, Mr Kenny went to Switzerland and told world leaders that the Irish people had gone 'mad'. He has shown a blatant display of disconnect and arrogance by sanctioning €30,000 in spending on things like photographs.
"This Government has become disconnected with the people in a record amount of time. Carers are fearing further cuts, disadvantaged schools are being decimated and Enda Kenny has the cheek to splash the cash in such an unacceptable way."
Mr Kenny emphasised that a professional photographic agency was contracted for major events, including the state visit by US president Barack Obama.
The lavish spending comes just days after the Herald revealed that the Department of Transport forked out €6,400 on photography in just nine months. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar racked up a bill of €393 on June 11 posing for what was described as a "profile of minister Varadkar".
A Government spokesperson said: "It's important to note that the overall photography bill has been reduced considerably, from €83,298 in 2008 to €30,629 in 2011. That represents a major reduction.
"It's also important to note that Ireland hosted two state visits last year, for which an outside photographic agency was used."