Former Irish leader Bertie Ahern will have to take driving lesson after losing the State car he was promised for the rest of his life.

Ahern is the most high profile victim of a clampdown on transport costs by the Fine Gael-Labour government.

New Justice Minister Alan Shatter has written to Ahern and all other former Prime Ministers and Presidents to inform them that they are no longer eligible for State limos.

The news will come as a particular blow to Ahern who admitted in 2003 that he didn’t hold a driving license because he didn’t need one having enjoyed continuous use of a State car and driver for the past 20 years.

The one-time Fianna Fail leader will have to take driving licences and undergo a strict test if he wants to drive on Irish roads again.

The cutbacks announced by Minister Shatter will save the tax payer over $6million a year.

Government Ministers, the speaker of the House and the Attorney General will now have to fund their own cars and drivers.

Police drivers with state cars will be available only to the President, the Prime Minister, his deputy, the Justice Minister, the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Any former President or Prime Minister will be entitled to apply for the use of an official car for important state occasions.

The new arrangements will come into play in May as Enda Kenny’s government looks to cut the average $350,000 cost per Minister of state transport.

The Fine Gael-Labor administration has also cut the allocation for private and constituency offices of Ministers by about $6million.

Staffing levels will also be cut with the maximum number of civil servants in a Minister’s private office down from 10 to eight and in the constituency office from six to four.


Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern