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Pay Up

Politicians who don't pay their bar tab will have it deducted from their salary

The Taoiseach encouraged the Oireachtas to investigate how to chase up politicians who fail to pay their bills.

POLITICIANS WHO DO not pay their bar tab will soon have their unpaid debts automatically deducted from their salary.

All TDs and senators have received a letter from the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission outlining a new credit policy for use of the Dáil bar and restaurant.

The letter states that as of the 23 April, politicians will not be able to make any purchases “on credit” without having returned their direct debit form.

It outlines that any debt incurred by TDs or senators will be deducted from their salary at the end of the month.

The change in policy comes after it emerged last year that unpaid Dáil bar and restaurant bills were being written off, with some tabs dating back many years.

A recent Houses of the Oireachtas Commission report disclosed that almost €5,500 in unpaid Dáil bar and restaurant tabs was written off.

There are two bars in Leinster House – one that is open to visitors and one that is only for use by TDs and senators.

There are also a member’s restaurant in Leinster House, which members of the both Houses can dine in, and where visitors can be invited. There is also a cafeteria, which is open to all. Food is also available in the bars.

Leo Varadkar told last August that politicians who have not paid their bill should have it deducted from their salary or pension.

“There is a separation between the role of the Oireachtas and the role of the government and I don’t want to be accused of interfering in the role of the Oireachtas. It is absolutely my view that members and former members pay their bills and I would encourage the Oireachtas Commission to look at mechanisms of deducting that money from people’s salaries or pensions,” he said.

At the time, the Taoiseach indicated that it would be more difficult to get the money from TDs and senators who are no longer in office.

“I imagine it is possible to deduct it from people’s salaries, it probably isn’t possible to deduct it from people’s pensions for reasons you’ll understand.

“But I would encourage the Oireachtas Commission to examine that. Everyone should pay their bills, particularly politicians,” he said at the time.

The Houses of the Oireachtas said a “series of efforts had been made to recover the sums due”. The roll out of the new system is the latest effort to get politicians to pay up.

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