The Scottish ’embassy’ is responsible for good jokes


The Scottish government’s Irish ’embassy’ has been accused of wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on drinking events at posh venues.

Officials went wild with bashes to celebrate Burns Night and St Andrew’s Day, including a performance at ‘Dublin’s best cocktail bar’.

They spent almost £6,000 on St Andrew’s Day at the venue, which offers ‘cocktails and craic’. They then paid pro-independence singer Eddi Reader more than £4,000 to entertain revelers at a Burns supper.

Dublin office manager Katy McNeil leads the toast on Burns Night

Dublin office manager Katy McNeil leads the toast on Burns Night

Details of the spending are revealed in recently released Scottish Government spending figures, which show the Dublin office spent almost £35,000 in a three-month period, including thousands on food, drink, hotels and entertainment.

Critics accuse the SNP of wasting millions on a series of foreign offices, despite foreign affairs being the preserve of Westminster.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: ‘The public will be asking serious questions about why the SNP continues to waste money on events like this.

‘The Scots want crucial funds to be spent on frontline services. Spending on independence-related activities will always be the SNP’s priority.”

The Dublin office opened in 2016. Since then it has received at least £3.2 million in taxpayers’ money.

Glasses of malt at St Andrew's Day celebration

Glasses of malt at St Andrew’s Day celebration

The Dublin office likes the 'extensive wine list' at Hugo's

The Dublin office likes the ‘extensive wine list’ at Hugo’s

It is based in the British Embassy and overseen by Angus Robertson, the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture.

The latest figures show how much money was spent on government purchasing cards over a three-month period at the beginning of last year.

Officials spent almost £6,000 at 4 Dame Lane, a venue in the Temple Bar area that describes itself as the ‘best cocktail bar in Dublin’, on venue hire, food and drink for the 2022 St Andrew’s Day celebration.

The official X/Twitter account of the Scottish Government office in Dublin shows a bartender pouring 12-year-old Speyside malt into a row of crystal glasses during the celebration. Last January also saw a swanky Burns Supper at the four-star Clayton Hotel in Dublin, with the hotel paying almost £19,000 in three weeks.

The Scottish Government has separately confirmed that Ms Reader has received more than £4,300 for entertaining guests, including a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

Officials also paid £570 to Irish singer Simon Morgan and a guitarist, and what the Scottish Government said was the ‘rental of a double bass for use by Eddi Reader’s band’.

Independence singer Eddi Reader pocketed £4,000 to play a gig in front of the SNP government office in Dublin

Independence singer Eddi Reader pocketed £4,000 to play a gig in front of the SNP government office in Dublin

In addition to the Burns and St Andrew’s celebrations, figures show the Dublin office spent almost £1,500 on room rental at The Sugar Club, a music venue with a theater and nightclub, last January, and a further £547 on catering in March. .

In January it also spent more than £870 on event catering by top restaurant and wine bar Hugo’s, which has an ‘extensive wine list’.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said Reader’s fee was £4,380 including VAT, as well as travel costs of £843.60 for her and the band, totaling £5,223.60.

The Scottish Government also confirmed that the amount for 4 Dame Lane covered ‘venue costs, drinks and food for the St Andrew’s Day event’.

Thousands were spent on swish Burns Night

Thousands were spent on swish Burns Night

Separate figures released under Freedom of Information last week revealed an additional £3 million in costs for the Dublin office since 2018.

The £7.8 million per year network has nine international offices in Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, London, Ottawa, Paris and Washington.

The Dublin office is led by Katy McNeil. Although the Scottish Government declined to reveal her salary, it said in an earlier response that the director of the Brussels office was paid between £95,930 and £103,495.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘International offices are maintained by all devolved governments. This involvement will deliver tangible benefits for Scotland’s people, businesses and institutions.

“Our Dublin office has generated 190 new connections for Scottish businesses and statistics from Scottish Development International also show that foreign investment has created more than 8,500 jobs across 20 local authorities in the 2022/2023 financial year.”

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