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17 TDs admit they’ve had an alcoholic drink before going into the Dáil chamber

“If a TD has a pint or two I don’t think that’s a problem for me and I don’t think it’s a problem for the citizens of the country either,” Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg has told TV3′s Midweek programme.

The infamous 'Lapgate' incident involving Fine Gael TDs Aine Collins and Tom Barry
The infamous 'Lapgate' incident involving Fine Gael TDs Aine Collins and Tom Barry
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

Updated 11.00pm

AT LEAST 17 TDs have admitted to taking a drink before returning to the Dáil chamber to take part in a debate or vote, according to a new survey.

The survey of TDs by TV3′s Midweek programme has found that 60 of the 79 deputies who responded to the survey think the Dáil bar should not be allowed to serve alcohol past regular licensing hours.

A special programme on drinking in the Oireachtas bars is being broadcast tonight at 10pm in the wake of controversy that has arisen about TDs drinking during late-night sittings.

As TheJournal.ie revealed in September, nearly €4,000 was spent on alcoholic drinks in the two Oireachtas bars on the day and night of the debate on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill when the now infamous ‘Lapgate’ incident occurred.

Midweek contacted all 166 TDs and got 79 responses with 17 TDs admitting to consuming an alcoholic drink and then returning to the Dáil chamber even if it was just to vote.

Seventy-two of those surveyed said that alcohol should not be banned from Leinster House, while 67 of the 79 surveyed said they did not agree with the statement that there is a drinking culture in the Oireachtas.

Interviewed for the programme, the Labour Party chief whip, Emmet Stagg said he is not concerned about TDs taking a drink before participating in Dáil debates.

“If a TD has a pint or two I don’t think that’s a problem for me and I don’t think it’s a problem for the citizens of the country either,” he said.

He claimed “there’s loads of places” where people go at lunchtime to have a pint, saying this does not affect their ability to carry out their job.

“In quite a lot of jobs that happens and people go to pubs and people have a pint and a sandwich for their lunch,” he said.

Stagg continued: “Irish people have a pint regularly with their lunch, they have a pint after their work time, they have a pint sometimes at night time. So do I and I enjoy them.”

In a statement to TheJournal.ie this evening, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams criticised Deputy Stagg’s comments, adding that “TDs should not be drinking on the job”.

“For Emmet Stagg to say that there is no problem if TDs drink alcohol before engaging in Dail debates shows how seriously out of touch with public feeling some members of this Government now are”, he said.

He also called for the Dáil Bar to regulated in the same way as any other bar, and accused Leinster House authorities of “dodging the issue”.

Deputy Adams previously told this website that there were at least two TDs in his vicinity who were intoxicated on the night the former Anglo Irish Bank was liquidated as part of the promissory note deal in February.

The Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett has previously played down concerns about drinking by TDs.

Originally published 5.45pm

Read: Chief Whip has no regrets over 5am Dáil sitting, says FG could have lost 10 TDs

Read: Oireachtas bars turned over €300,000 last year

Read: Here’s what a drink costs in the Leinster House bars

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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