Fianna Fáil deputy and chairman of the Dáil’s ‘Spending Watchdog’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) TD John McGuinness made headlines today with more news of excessive and grotesquely wasteful expenses used for personal enjoyment. As well as expensive items of ivory and diamond jewelery, the TD had argued for and successfully commissioned the building and use of a personalised gold-plated jet with on-board jacuzzi, sports centre, cinema and rare fish aquarium.
The revelations come after controversy surrounding €250,000 spent decorating a new office for Mr McGuinness when he was a junior minister, and his son Andrew claiming more than €30,000 in overtime from the taxpayer in a single year while working in a makey-uppy mickey-mouse PA job given to him by his father after his chosen career of Motocross Champ and Rap Star fell through.
The discovery of McGuinness Air Power 1, housed at Knock airport in Co. Mayo, has left taxpayers reeling with the estimated cost of the jet being an annual 3.4 million euro – and that’s before pilot, co-pilot and 8 crew have been paid. In a 2008 email to a group of four civil servants, McGuinness argued staunchly in favour of commissioning the jet, citing his ‘rights as a man to travel in extreme comfort and with total and unrestrained convenience’. “My wife likes to travel by jet. She has rights as my wife” he ably claimed. “I do not need or want an argument on ethics” he continued before suggesting the reader “suck one”. The TD then outlined directions for his and his wife’s on-board comfort preferences, directing that “my wife’s blue and pink fluffy monogrammed size 6 slippers need to be placed directly at the foot of the jacuzzi steps at a 30 degree angle, so comfortable and dry transit from said jacuzzi to massage & bar area can be facilitated without incurring undue stress and non-luxury”.
Mr. McGuinness also included a jetting menu requirement list – known in the rock music world as a ‘rider’ – which contained a number of extravagant items such as a signed CD or cassette copy of Phil Collins’ ‘No Jacket Required’ album and a jumbo bag filled with only the black square Rowntree’s Wine Gums. “If neither Perrier or Evian is available, locally sourced replacements will be accepted but on NO account will Wine Gum replacements be accepted by the minister” wrote the TD about himself using the third person before attaching an image to the mail of a wax seal bearing the initials ‘JMcG’.