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Oireachtas insists: public won't foot the bill for Dáil bar tabs

Although members have unpaid bills for food and drink in Leinster House, the Oireachtas says all will be repaid.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

LEINSTER HOUSE OFFICIALS have insisted that the public will not have to foot the bills of former TDs and senators, who left their tabs unpaid when they left office earlier this year.

A report in yesterday’s Evening Herald said that TDs and senators had unpaid bills of around €70,000 in Leinster House – with new members responsible for the bulk of the arrears at the Leinster House bar and at the members’ restaurant.

But a statement from the Oireachtas yesterday blasted the Herald’s headline – ‘TDs’ €70k bar bill’ – as “wholly untrue” and said the actual sum that was unpaid at the bar was only a tenth of that, at around €7,000.

An Oireachtas spokesman explained that the €70,000 figure was comprised of bills outstanding at both the bar and at the Leinster House restaurants – and that all but €8,000 had been incurred by current members who would repay it in full.

“The large majority of the outstanding debts relate to the restaurant only; where TDs and Senators regularly host visiting groups and organisations.  And all of this money is being repaid,” the statement said, adding:

The Houses of the Oireachtas provide a credit facility to Members that allows them to have monthly accounts for their food and beverages consumed in Leinster House.  This is not a free credit line for Members and is repaid in full by Members.

The statement added that the figures provided to the Herald had been provided in April, and that the amount owned by former members had been reduced ‘signficantly’ since then.

The Herald’s report, which is picked up on by most of today’s papers, stated that 31 former Oireachtas members – who had all left their positions after the respective Dáil and Seanad elections – had left a bar bill of €614.25, and a catering bill of over €7,000.

In one case, a former member had left a bar tab of €240, while another had left an unpaid restaurant bar bill of €1,654.

An Oireachtas spokesman this morning told TheJournal.ie it was investigating whether the unpaid bills could be deducted from the termination and pension payments of former members.

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Gavan Reilly

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