This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
Advertisement

Average of 30 TDs and senators a month getting Dáil bar and restaurant debts taken from salary

New credit process brought in last year to Leinster House facilities sees tabs of more than two months automatically deducted.

Image: Shutterstock/Anton_Ivanov

AROUND 30 MEMBERS of the Oireachtas are still allowing their Dáil bar and restaurant to slide into arrears of two months or more, according to documents obtained by TheJournal.ie.

A policy was introduced for politicians who don’t pay their tab in the Dáil bar and restaurant to have it automatically taken from their salary.

These deductions began in June 2018, and are taken on “aged debt”, debts which are older than two months.

According to documents released to TheJournal.ie and its investigative platform Noteworthy.ie under the Freedom of Information Act, aged debt in February of this year stood at €3,908.20 in the Dáil bar and €9,780.50 in the restaurant.

The highest amount owed in the bar for over two months in February was €721.60 from a Senator, while a TD owed €973.05 to the restaurant. One former member of the Oireachtas owed €454.95 for more than two months. 

And, between current (any debt running for less than two months) and aged debt as of 13 June 2019, three TDs owed more than €400 to the bar while some had run up large bills in the restaurant. 

One TD owed €3,705.25 as of that June date. 

amounts owed dail

Pay your debts

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

In August 2017, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told TheJournal.ie that politicians who have not paid their bill should have it deducted from their salary or pension.

 ”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. 

That became a reality in April 2018, when a new credit system came into place. Members had to sign up to the new system of deductions in order to make any purchases on credit. 

“If you have obtained credit and wish to avoid a salary or credit/debit card deduction you can settle your account directly by any of the usual payment methods,” the memo said.

According to an audit of the Dáil bar and restaurant completed in May 2018, and seen by TheJournal.ie, its most recent accounts showed a net profit of €40,334.40 for the restaurant and €98,712.36.

This excluded staff costs, which far outweigh these profits. The audit recommended that payroll costs be incorporated into its profit and loss reports.

The audit also noted that the issue of getting debts paid should be helped by the new system. 

According to the ‘aged debt’ figures for February, 30 TDs and senators had accrued debts for longer than two months.

The deductions made on these accounts would have been largely consistent with how the process has worked so far. In a large proportion of cases, the amount owed is less than €100.

An Oireachtas spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “The deductions made under the new credit policy relate specifically to aged debts, ie, debts which are older than two months.  The first round of automatic deductions commenced in June 2018. 

This monthly deduction process has continued each month since then. We have no reportable information on the instances in 2019. As a broad indicator, the average number of mandated deductions per month in 2018 was approximately 30 deductions.

With additional reporting from Ken Foxe and the team at Noteworthy.ie – find out more about their work here.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Sean Murray

Read next:

COMMENTS (54)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel