Senior Government Official Not...

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Senior Government Official Not Aware Of Extravagant Spending By President

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The government's chief civil servant says if he was aware of any extravagant spending by the President he'd have to raise it with Áras officials.

But Martin Fraser insists that hasn't happened during Michael D Higgins' term as President.

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee is examining the issue of Presidential spending today.

Martin Fraser, Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, says he would be reluctant to intervene with the Office of the President:

"The relationship with the government and the president is a very delicate one so it would be with the greatest reluctance that I'd intervene but if a financial issue arose I would have to ask questions of people in the Áras and hope to have it fixed - but it hasn't happened"

The examination is going ahead despite objections from senior politicians.

Critics of this hearing have said it's ill-timed and is a blatant attempt to politicise the Public Accounts Committee and undermine Michael D Higgins.

Both the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader have questioned the timing of the hearing - as it comes just a day before nominations close in the Presidential campaign.

The spending of the office of the President usually comes in at around €3m a year.

However no breakdown is given, and the office of the President is exempt from Freedom of Information law - meaning we don't have a clear picture of how money is spent.


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