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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 13 December, 2019
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Politicians' places of work: what happens around the world?

TDs and senators may have spent six figures in Leinster House bars last year, but how do their perks compare with those of their international counterparts?

THIS WEEK DETAILS emerged of just how much was spent in both bars at Leinster House during the abortion debate.

With two bars combining to turnover €300,000 a year, a restaurant, a canteen and a coffee dock, there has been some suggestion that, despite receiving no state subsidy, our public representatives have it too good in their workplace.

But how do they fare when compared to overseas colleagues?

England

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Pic: Wikimedia Commons

The House of Commons, and the British electoral system in general, have been the template for a lot of things in Irish life.

However, the Oireachtas bars pale in comparison to the facilities on offer at the Palace of Westminster. In London, the Refreshments Department oversees 18 restaurants and coffee shops, six bars and six banquet rooms that combine to take in £3.7 million a year.

Those facilities are subsidised to the tune of £5.8 million, or 76 per cent, something that has been subject of intense objection in recent years.

The subsidy enables MPs and Lords to enjoy such dishes as seared breast of pigeon with aubergine purée and spiced couscous for just £4.15.

There is also a gym, a hair salon and a rifle range.

USA

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Pic: Wikimedia Commons

On Capitol Hill, things get a little bit exclusive. Apart from a visitors cafe, all of the eateries in the US Capitol are closed to the public unless they are escorted by a staff member.

In total, there are 17 places to grab lunch or dinner in Washington DC’s power hub, though the Senate and House dining rooms are members only.

Coffee shops, ice cream parlours and a buffet are all on offer, though don’t expect any taxpayer funding. Most of the restaurants are run by New York company Restaurant Associates, who sprinkle southern influences across the board: fried chicken, barbecue and collard greens are staples.

Some of the restaurants, including the two dining rooms, are fully licensed.

If you get caught between meetings and are hungry, there are vending machines dotted around the buildings.

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Pic: Tribe.net

Of course, you shouldn’t get caught between meetings because the Capitol has its own subway system. Linking the outlying buildings with the central Capitol, the system is only available to those with an employee ID card, but visitors of staff can also ride.

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Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Capitol Hill has been described as a “small town” and features a barbershop, hair salons and post offices.

Canada

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Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Canadians love beer.  Some have it at their parliamentary restaurant.

Some of them even love seal meat. Some have that at their parliamentary restaurant.

However, if you were planning a trip to Ottawa to try out the delicacy, think again. The restaurant at Parliament Hill is members-only and extremely exclusive.

Sitting on the sixth floor of the main building, the fully licensed restaurant has been described as such:

“The food is good, the setting is opulent and the prices are low.”

The restaurant is subsidised by the taxpayer, as is the gym at a building across the street.

New Zealand

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Pic: Wikimedia Commons

In Wellington, the Beehive side of Parliament Buildings (above) plays host to a restaurant named Bellamy’s, like one of the numerous establishments in London.

The bar and restaurant is funded to the tune of NZ$2.6 million every year and each MP receives about NZ$1,000 in subsidised meals. New Zealand MPs can also avail of an indoor swimming pool and gym.

Spain

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Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Madrid recently decided that cuts had to be made to their parliament’s €900,000 a year catering bill.

In order to tackle the bill, legislators removed hard liquor and food from the items subsidised. However, beer, coffee and Rioja wine will still be available cheap.

Beer at Cortes Generales costs €0.95 and wine is €1.65.

Revealed: Nearly €7,000 spent in Leinster House bars during late night abortion debate

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

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

In full: Oireachtas Bars FOI Part One and Part Two

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