The Ministerial Mercs that featured on Ireland highways and byways are no more – government ministers now have to find their own transport.
Plans by the new government to scrap the Ministerial cars for everyone bar the President, the Prime Minister, his deputy and the Minister for Justice came into effect on Monday.
Once viewed as a major status symbol, the government Mercs came to be abhorred in the wake of the demise of the Celtic Tiger.
Coalition partners Fine Gael and Labor had vowed to scrap the system, which cost the State almost $15million in the last two years, in the build-up to the recent general election.
Ministers will now be entitled to mileage allowances and to hire two civilian drivers paid for by the State.
The drivers will be paid $50,000 a year but retired police officers who take up the roles will still be entitled to their police pensions of almost $60,000 a year.
A number of retired politicians will also lose their state cars and drivers under the new scheme including former president Mary Robinson, and Prime Ministers Liam Cosgrave, Garret FitzGerald, Albert Reynolds, John Bruton, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.
They will be entitled to official transport when attending State functions.
Justice Minister Shatter, the man directly responsible for axing the old system, said the average annual cost of transport for a Minister of State, including drivers’ pay, was €120,000.
That contrasted, he told the Irish Times, with the estimated €280,000 it cost to provide senior Ministers with official cars and police drivers.
The 60 or so police drivers will now be redeployed within the force and most of the vehicles in the car pool sold off.
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