Updated: 15/02/12 : 07:59:57
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Vatican embassy was one of cheapest to run

Ireland's 69 overseas embassies cost a total €76m to run last year, it has been revealed.

Figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that the bulk of the spending comes from salaries, travel claims and hospitality, the Irish Examiner reports today.

The cost of running the embassy in the Vatican came to just over €589,000, one of the cheaper missions on the list.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore announced the embassy's closure last year, citing economic reasons.

Ireland’s most expensive foreign mission — its permanent representation to the EU in Brussels, run at a cost of €9.3m last year — came in more than 15 times higher than the cost of the embassy to the Holy See.

Embassies in London (€5.17m), the permanent representation to the United Nations in New York (€2.95m), and embassies in Tokyo (€2.77m) and Paris (€2.65m) were also among the top five most expensive.

The least expensive overseas mission was the Vietnamese capital Hanoi — costing just €172,000, with diplomats spending nothing on travel or receptions.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the running costs of its missions was down 13% since 2008.

Meanwhile the figures show four senior Irish diplomats earn more than €168,000 a year, just below the salary of a Cabinet minister.

They are Irish Ambassador in London Bobby McDonagh; Anne Anderson, Ireland’s permanent representation to the United Nations in New York; Irish Ambassador to Denmark Brendan Scannell; and Ireland’s ambassador in Washington, Michael Collins.