Former Progressive Democrat and junior minister, Tom Parlon has denied tipping a chauffeur $2,620 while on a state trip to Atlanta as part of the St. Patrick Day celebrations in 2006.

Admitting last night that some of the expenses incurred as a junior minister were "excessive", Parlon has denied ever tipping the chauffeur and has said the gratuities for limo hire were built into the overall invoice and were not discretionary.

Limo hire for the ex-junior minister came to a whopping $20,000 for his short stay in the US. Mr Parlon defended himself by saying that the costs incurred were "normal practice" and that he never received monies in lieu of the official visit.

"From my perspective, the costs were excessive. For instance, it seems that it was "normal practice" for local embassies to agree to a 20 per cent gratuity for chauffeur services, which strikes me as being extremely high. I would like to make it clear that I at no stage received any monies in lieu of the official travel I undertook as a minister. Payments were processed on an inter-departmental basis and it is both wrong and damaging to try to insinuate that there was personal gain involved."

This news comes as figures were released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Ireland about trips taken by Mr Parlon and other former ministers.

It was also revealed that $150,000 was spent sending former minister and Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue and his wife abroad between 2003 and 2005. It cost $32,000 just to send the couple to the Breeders Cup in Australia, courtesy of the Irish tax payer. 

The Air Corps also came under heavy scrutiny as it was revealed that it provided $316,254 worth of transport to ministers since 2007. Journeys can cost up to $15,000 and on average a helicopter ride can cost $4,500 for a single trip.

As the recession grips the nation, public waste is being increasingly highlighted. The most infamous of all is former Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue. Deputy O'Donoghue resigned last month as Ceann Comhairle of the Dail as it was revealed he spent hundreds of thousands in expenses on State trips to South Africa, Australia, Britain and France over a two year period.

The revelations that former minister Tom Parlon spent over $20,000 on a limo while on a short visit to the USA adds further fuel to the fire created by the state expenses fiasco.

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