Irish Government Ministers secretly voted to give themselves access to drive in bus lanes – before they departed for their summer holidays.
The Irish Independent has revealed that the Fine Gael and Labor Party coalition agreed to the perk for Ministers on ‘official business’ in a vote taken on the last day of work before the summer recess.
The vote was carried on the same day that ordinary tax-payers were hit with a $140 household service charge and low paid workers were informed of another reduction in their pay terms.
Ministers lost their right to use bus lanes when state cars were abolished by PM Enda Kenny for all but the highest offices in a bid to make a $6million annual saving on government transport costs.
Only PM Kenny, his deputy Eamon Gilmore and Justice Minister Alan Shatter kept their state cars and police drivers for security reasons.
The Ministers who lost their state cars were entitled to hire civilian drivers with many of them opting to re-employ their former police drivers – some of whom are now on state pensions.
This latest vote means that Ministers’ personal cars can now utilize the bus lanes and bypass the traffic that clogs up Ireland’s city centers so long as a Minister is on board.
A Department of Transport spokesman confirmed: “The Government has agreed to continue toallow ministerial cars use bus lanes on official business.
“This is a continuation of the pre-existing position whereby Government Ministers were in a position to use bus lanes on official business as they were driven by members of the gardai (police).
“As the majority of Government Ministers are now driven by civilian drivers, this decision was required to allow the continuation.
“This decision only applies to members of the Government, Ministers of State who attend government meetings and the Ceann Comhairle (leader of the house). Use of the bus lane is only for ministers on official business.”