The coalition is being urged by one of its own minority ministers, Green Party leader John Gormley, to save taxpayers' money by leaving the government jet in its hangar and flying by low-cost airline Ryanair instead. Gormley said ministers need to set an example in cost-saving measures when going abroad on government business. He said he recently flew Ryanair to Poznan in Poland for a climate change conference. "It's quite amazing the amount of money you can save by going through Ryanair, and I think increasingly that government ministers have to set an example," Gormley said in a video interview newly uploaded on YouTube. Gormley insisted that Green Party ministers do not use the government jet, or other official aircraft. "We use commercial aircraft, which has the advantage of cutting down on carbon emissions, and in these economically constrained times, it actually cuts down on costs significantly," he said. It's estimated that the government jet costs up to nearly €8,000 an hour to operate. Gormley said that he and Eamon Ryan, the other Green in the administration, believed getting rid of the jet wouldn't cause any problems. But he added, "I suspect, however, that our government colleagues, the taoiseach and the minister for foreign affairs, would have a different idea, because they use the government jet quite a lot." Taoiseach Brian Cowen defended the Cabinet's use of the government jet. He said it was essential for carrying out official duties in a time-efficient manner. Cowen added, "In the context of the government doing its business in the modern age, there is a need for such a facility. The government jet is only used when appropriate." What's commonly referred to as "the government jet" is actually a fleet of three official aircraft: a Gulfstream, a Lear jet and a Beechcraft.
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