Richard North, 06/07/2004  

According to Ireland online the cost of Ireland's six-month presidency of the EU was €60.23m.

Ahern clains that sponsorship made a significant contribution to the overall cost, so the €60m was just the state's contribution.

This included the cost of official meetings, travel abroad, hospitality in Ireland, security arrangements, cultural presentations in Ireland and Europe, information services and the presidency website.

However, there is no word yet on whether Ahern's air miles have been taken into account. Given the number of times he rushed round Europe talking to his mates, he should have enough stacked up to holiday in the Bahamas until he retires.

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