Politicians rack up almost €30,000 on Dail bar tab

NewsBy Martin Grant
Leinster House party
Leinster House party

Boozing politicians still owe nearly €30,000 to taxpayers for drink and food tabs run up in the Dáil bar.

An investigation by the Sunday World reveals how TDs and senators have taken advantage of the subsidised booze. 

We can reveal how: 

  • TDs and senators owe €28,642 to the Dáil bar and restaurant
  • Some former TDs and senators have not paid their bill
  • More than 121 members have an account 
  • Despite the financial crisis, politicians have no credit limit in the bar 
  • All TDs and senators have the privilege to hold an account with both the Oireachtas restaurant and the private members bar
  • Our politicians haven’t been shy when it comes to boozing on the job. 

Figures released to the Sunday World reveal that politicians owe a total of €28,642 to the Dáil bar as of November 17, 2015. 

Even if our public representatives have a bad credit history, they can still splash as much as they like of their taxpayer-funded salary on booze. 

The Sunday World has learned that politicians don’t have use cash to pay for their booze and luxury meals.

Instead, they can simply spend as much as they can drink or eat, put it on a tab and worry about the bill whenever it suits them. 

An Oireachtas spokeswoman told the Sunday World that “customer accounts are not managed on a credit limit basis”.

Despite the fact that politicians have several ways for paying off their debt – including cash, credit card, cheque, electronic transfer or deduction from their salary – thousands of euro remain unpaid. 

At the end of October, 121 politicians owed money for their drinking and eating habits.

We can also reveal that despite the last election being held almost five years ago, nine former TDs and senators still have not paid their debt. 

An Oireachtas spokeswoman refused to reveal the amount of money owed by these politicians who were booted out of office. 

She said there are a “variety of reasons amounts are currently recorded as owed” by politicians who no longer hold a seat, adding that it would be “misleading to release” the amounts owed. 

The highest bill currently owed by one politician is a staggering €2,500 – which can buy 581 pints of Guinness in the Dáil bar. 

The lowest bill owed is €5, while most TDs and senators owe an average of between €200 and €250. 

While the punter on the street can fork out up to €7 for a pint of Guinness, our politicians pay the rock bottom price of €4.30 for the black stuff.  

Vodka is the cheapest spirit available to politicians at €4.20, while a whiskey will set them back €5. 

The Dail Bar price list

And the entertainment doesn’t stop there.

If they fancy a flutter while debating the affairs of the nation, TDs and Senators have access to Racing UK, a horse racing focused channel. 

The Dáil bar hit the headlines in 2014 when a Fine Gael TD grabbed a female colleague and forced to sit on his lab.

During the infamous ‘lapgate’ incident, Tom Barry placed his arms around Aine Collins and pulled her into his lap during the debate of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. 

Nearly €7,000 was spent on booze and food during the historic debate. 

Despite there being a health risk associated with drinking alcohol and working on the job, TDs do not see an issue.

Fianna Fáil Health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the Dáil is “not a normal work place”. 

“There is extended hours, people can’t leave and just go somewhere else. They have to stay on the premises when there is voting arrangements for long periods,” Mr Kelleher told the Sunday World. 

“The Dáil may sit late into the night. It’s there for that purpose, so that people may have a bite to eat, a cup of tea, a drink if they like. 

“The behaviour of one or two can undermine the perception of what actually happens. 

“Over the years people have abused it, but individuals have to be responsible. 

“You shouldn’t withdraw something because one or two don’t behave.” 

The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar refused to comment on the issue.