Sean Fitzpatrick

A CONTROVERSIAL state body flew 13 people to Boston for a conference on housing management and "active citizenship", at a cost of almost €30,000, it has emerged.

It also spent €1,077 on theatre tickets on a 12-person trip to London, nearly €1,700 on a dinner in the same city and €13,700 on five-star hotel accommodation in Spain.

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority, which is responsible for the regeneration of the capital's docklands, regularly flew more than ten people to various seminars and courses and on visits overseas.

In August 2006, the DDDA flew 13 people to Boston for several days for a conference. Flights and accommodation came to €24,043 and €3,000 went on incidental expenses. These included dinner for 20, which cost €1,466.80, and two other dinners for 14 costing nearly €750. A "float" for the trip was €350, while snacks cost €71.43.

In September 2006, another 12 people from the DDDA travelled to London for "education and research". While the authority was economical with flights, it made up for it by buying theatre tickets.

Flights to London cost just €518.60, with train tickets from Heathrow coming in at €366.90. Theatre tickets for 12, however, cost €1,077 while two dinners for 12 people came in at €1,461.

Accommodation for three nights for the group came to nearly €5,500, the DDDA said in response to a Freedom of Information request.

One of the most costly trips was in October 2006, when 14 officials went to Bilbao and San Sebastian in Spain. Flights cost just €2,056.45, but the hotel bill for two nights came to €13,772. The group stayed at the five-star Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian, which has made the coveted Gold List in Condé Nast Traveller magazine.

The 14 officials also enjoyed two fine meals at the Casa Nicola and Juanito restaurants in the Basque country, costing €2,285.

On that trip were board members Lar Bradshaw, Declan McCourt, Seán FitzPatrick (former Anglo Irish Bank chairman), Donall Curtin, Mary Moylan, Joan O'Connor, Niamh O'Sullivan and Angela Cavendish. Executive members Paul Maloney, David Higgins, Gerry Kelly, Loretta Lambkin, John McLaughlin and Neil Mulcahy also travelled.