State's bumper buffet bill as €100k spent on party for the President
The State last year splurged almost €100,000 on catering for guests to an evening State reception and buffet celebrating President Michael D Higgins's inauguration.
The spend by the Office of the President came under the spotlight during last year's presidential campaign, but new figures show that it was the Department of the Taoiseach which paid a catering firm €97,916 to cater for a total of 2,000 guests on Inauguration Day last November 11.
The figures show that the Department of the Taoiseach paid The Right Catering Company €97,916 for a buffet for 500 guests following the presidential inauguration and for an evening State reception later on November 11 for 1,500 guests.
According to a spokesman at the Department of the Taoiseach, a stand-up buffet meal (hot bowl) was provided for 500 guests immediately after the inauguration ceremony staged at St Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle.
"The menu included tea/coffee/juices/wine, and a choice of chicken, beef or a vegetarian option," the department spokesman said.
"Later that evening, the Taoiseach hosted a State reception for 1,500 guests including the President and Mrs Higgins, Government ministers, members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the judiciary, the Diplomatic Corps, the Northern Ireland Executive, MEPs, local authorities, representatives from civic and public society and guests and family of the President.
"Beverages and a selection of finger food were served, including vegetarian, traditional and gluten-free options.
"The contract for the provision of catering on the occasion of the presidential inauguration was awarded to The Right Catering Company following a competitive tendering process.
"Request for tenders (RFT) were issued to four companies and three companies submitted tenders.
"The contract was awarded to the most economically advantageous tender having regard to criteria outlined in RFT," the spokesman added.
Figures released by the Office of the President last year show that more than €1.7m was spent by the office on food, beverages, hospitality and entertainment during Mr Higgins's first term in office.
During his first term as President, Mr Higgins received an annual discretionary allowance of €317,000.
Last year, the President spent €125,589 on food and beverages and €73,682 on hospitality and entertaining for guests, figures revealed.
The spend under those two headings in 2018 went toward catering for guests at a large number of events, including 209 official lunches and dinners; 114 receptions; 52 themed garden parties and 22 afternoon tea receptions for active citizens' groups.