Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spent €877.83 on twelve gifts since his inauguration in June this year.
This is a substantial increase from the same period in 2016 when Enda Kenny was Taoiseach and spent only €98.59 on just four gifts for the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the governor of Georgia, the mayor of Atlanta and the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
Varadkar spent €518.67 alone on the Trudeau family with gifts ranging from €14.99 to €198.78. The most expensive gift was a framed photograph of Skellig Michael given to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who also received a rare copy of a book of W.B. Yeats poems along with a pair of Book of Kells socks.
Madame Sophie Gregoire Trudeau received a Salmon of Knowledge brooch and a green wool scarf, which together cost €109.95. The Prime Minister’s youngest son wasn’t forgotten. Hadrien received a W.B. Yeats book for children – The Moon Spun Round.
Varadkar also spent €189.16 on four pairs of spiral cuff links for Philippe Couillard, Premier of Quebec, and the mayors of Montreal, Seattle and San Francisco.
While Varadkar spent much more in the second half of the year in 2017 compared to 2016, the Department of the Taoiseach as a whole spent more than double the amount on gifts in 2017.
St. Patrick’s Day gifts were the main contributors to this increase with over €1,200 being spent on gifts for that day, a significant jump from the previous year where only €382 was spent. Although that was partly because the Shamrock Bowl provided by House of Waterford Crystal didn’t cost the Department of the Taoiseach anything in 2016 when it was given to then President Barack Obama.
However, the Shamrock Bowl designed by Criostal na Rinne in Waterford for President Donald Trump did cost the department €300.
by Alison Egan and Shane McGannon