Dáil Éireann - Volume 446 - 02 November, 1994

Written Answers. - Ministerial Transport.

62. Mr. Bradford asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will give details of the use, if any, by him and his wife of Air Corps transport to travel to and from Corfu, and from Baldonnell to Tralee on the occasion of the Corfu Summit. [2534/94]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): In accordance with the schedule prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Departments of the Taoiseach and Defence, my wife and I left Ireland with President and Mr. Robinson on a State visit to Poland on 20 June. We travelled from Tralee to Dublin Airport by Air Corps transport where we joined the President's party. From Dublin Airport we travelled to Frankfurt on a scheduled Aer Lingus flight, EI 658, and connected to Warsaw on a scheduled Lot Airlines fight, LO 380.

In participating in the State visit to Poland, my wife and I fulfilled a responsibility which falls to all Foreign Ministers and their spouses under international practice governing State visits.

Our responsibilities in this area have previously included joining the President and Mr. Robinson on State visits to Spain and to New Zealand. Despite the demands which a young family of three make on her time, my wife has made arrangements to accompany me on each of these occasions.

Where other business has prevented us from participating in State visit, as in the case of the State visit to India last year and the visits in Africa this year, the President has been accompanied by another Minister and spouse.

Official talks between host and visiting Ministers covering trade, economic and political matters from an important component of all such visits. In addition to talks with the Polish Foreign Minister, Andrzej Olechowski, I participated in talks with President Lech Walesa, Prime Minister, Waldemar Pawlak, the Marshall of the Sejm (lower House of Parliament) Josef Oleski, the Marshall of the Senate, Adam Struzik, members of the Polish-Irish Parliamentary group, and a broad cross-section of Polish business leaders and representatives of Irish business interests in Poland. My wife and I attended a State dinner hosted by President Walesa and attended by Foreign Minister Olechowski and Mrs. Olechowski.

Because of my official commitments at Corfu my wife and I, as previously arranged, left the President's party, two days before the conclusion of the State visit, on Wednesday afternoon, 22 June. The Government jet left Baldonnel on Wednesday morning, bearing Minister Joan Burton and her spouse who were to accompany President Robinson for [1501] the remainder of the State visit to Poland. The jet also carried three officials who were due to attend the European Council in Corfu.

My wife and I joined the flight at Warsaw with two further officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Government jet arrived in Corfu at 6 p.m.

My wife remained on the jet which was in any event scheduled to return to Dublin to bring the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and 11 officials to Corfu. It arrived at Baldonnel at 10.45 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

At Baldonnel, an Air Corps Beechcraft was provided to return my wife to Farranfore Airport. She arrived there at midnight and returned home to Tralee, arriving at her ultimate point of departure at 12.30 a.m.