One wonders if the Cabinet have decided to collect their deferred pay raises as travel benefits. Just in the last few days: Mary Hanafin postpones a trip to the USA by a day to appear at a Dail debate on autism; Dermot Ahern still says he’s travelling across the world to East Timor even with that country’s President in an induced coma and in the midst of a state of emergency, and of course we had Mary Harney fitting in a trip to the Superbowl in a week-long trip in the government jet. And, with our peace-keeping operation in Chad apparently an adjunct of French operations there, Willie O’Dea has to have the relevant meetings in Paris. And this is before we have the annual farce of the entire Cabinet abroad for the St Patrick’s Week, as it has now become. Unkind minds might wonder: if our ministers are never in Ireland, why do we need them?