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Leinster House bosses were warned Dáil rats were stealing chocolate 6 weeks before bar shut

The bar shut for more than a week after a rat was spotted by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/COULANGES

LEINSTER HOUSE AUTHORITIES were warned six weeks before a rat forced the Dáil bar to close in July that rodents were stealing chocolate bars, and specialists were required to remove the “foul smell” of old nesting material behind the counter.

The bar shut for more than a week after a rat was spotted by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and it then evaded capture for three days.

However, internal records reveal that rodent activity had been detected in the main bar as early as 17 May, as well as in the kitchen prep area and in both the nearby ladies and gents toilets.

A pest control company wrote to Leinster House officials on 24 May, explaining that rodents were stealing snacks from behind the bar.

“Can you please advise bar management to keep all food off the lower units due to rats feeding on chocolate bars … which they are taking out of boxes and dragging in behind the kickboards,” they wrote.

The company also found “multiple holes and gaps” under the beer taps in the private bar, which they said should be filled in order “to stop anything running up in the pipes”.

New traps were set in the members’ area on 1 June, and one dead rodent was removed, according to pest control inspection reports released under the Freedom of Information Act.

On 9 July, the day on which rat was spotted, the pest control company found rats’ urine and droppings in the basement storage area, as well as in the ceiling void above the bar. This was identified as a safety hazard and disease risk for staff.

Some “pigeon fouling” was also discovered in the air-handling unit area of the Dáil bar, which required “urgent attention before this area is completely infested”, the pest controllers warned.

They also noted that “the smell of fouling in the gents toilets is a bit sickening”, but blamed this on pigeons relieving themselves in the adjacent courtyard.

The eventual capture of the Dáil rat on 11 July was recorded by the pest control company.

“OPW (Office of Public Works) found one live adult dazed rat … which they humanely killed and disposed of,” they said.

“Old rat droppings” were found underneath bar furniture the following day, while droppings were also discovered under the bar kitchen units on 16 July.

The bar re-opened on 17 July after additional traps that had been set in the seating areas were removed. Traps and monitors inside the bar remained in place and further follow-ups were scheduled, according to the reports.

A spokesperson for the Houses of the Oireachtas said that Leinster House has a pest control system in place, as with other buildings of similar size, age and location.

“We work with the relevant authorities and procure the necessary services to ensure that matters are correctly handled and necessary procedures are in place,” she said.

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Darragh McDonagh

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