Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming TD has expressed surprise at an 8% increase in the amount of money being paid for school fees for diplomats serving abroad.
In 2011 the total amount paid under the School Fees Assistance scheme was €1.06m, however the Department of Foreign Affairs has estimated this year’s total will run to €1,141,000.
Deputy Fleming said: “There is some surprise in the breakdown of these figures, the 8% rise in the cost of the scheme from 2011 to 2012 being the most surprising. In one case alone €29,200* was paid in 2011 and the United States and the UK are in 1st and 3rd position respectively for the amount of money paid out for the education of children of our diplomats serving abroad.
“In countries where there are no English-speaking public schools available within appropriate locations it is understandable that a scheme such as the SFA is available to support the children of our diplomatic staff overseas. However I think people will be surprised by the costs involved. Ireland’s economic, social and cultural ties with the UK and America are deep-rooted and I think there are legitimate questions to be asked about the amount of money (€141,448.89 US and €101,531.59 UK) spent on fee-paying education in those countries.
“I will be looking to find out from Minister Howlin if the SFA scheme forms part of the wider review of allowances he is conducting across the public service and what justification can be given for a projected 8% increase in the cost of this scheme while frontline education services at home are facing severe cuts.”