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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Hain's sporting trips criticised
Peter Hain
Peter Hain travelled to Dublin on a chartered plane
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has been criticised for using public money to attend sporting events in the Irish Republic.

The details were contained in a report outlining the cost of trips made by Cabinet ministers in the past year.

Mr Hain used a chartered plane to go to a rugby international in Dublin and two motor racing events in Sligo.

The bill, including accommodation costs for the minister and his officials, came to almost 11,000.

SDLP assembly member John Dallat said it sent out the wrong message.

"At a time when rates bills are dropping through the door at an enormous rate of inflation, water charges on the way, children not able to get admission to special needs schools, it just seems wrong," he said.

"I think he needs to revise his public relations."

Alliance Party assembly member Kieran McCarthy, said it was a shocking figure.

"The money could have been much better spent on key services like education and health," he said.

The Northern Ireland Office said in a statement that scheduled flights did not offer the "flexible and efficient travel" which the minister needed to enable him to meet his commitments.

It added that travel arrangements were always kept under review.


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