Oireachtas bar tab write off inexcusable: Ferris
Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris says it is "inexcusable" that the Houses of the Oireachtas have decided to write off over €5,000 in unpaid bar and restaurant tabs.
Last week it was revealed that the Dáil bar and restaurant were writing off €5,482 in unpaid bills, some of which date back over 16 years.
The majority of the unpaid bills are from the restaurant, which is owed €4,717. The Dáil bar is owed €765.
A report from the Oireachtas Commission confirmed said that the body has had to write off the debts because there is "no realistic prospect of recovery of the sums due".
Deputy Ferris was highly critical of the decision to write off the debts.
"Many constituents have been asking me, tongue in cheek mostly, if I was one of the TDs with an outstanding Dáil bar tab. For the record, I do not now, nor have I ever, availed of a bar tab in the Dáil," he said.
"It is inexcusable that the amount owed is being written off, small businesses that are owed monies have to take remedies to recover outstanding debts and I don't see why TDs or senators cannot be treated similarly. TDs and senators are handsomely rewarded and there should be zero tolerance applied to those who expect the taxpayer to pick up their bar tabs," said Deputy Ferris.
According to the most recent price lists published by the Oireachtas - in March 2016 - a pint of Guinness in the bar cost €4.40 while a longneck beer, glass of wine or a measure of whiskey was €5. A shot of gin, rum or vodka cost €4.50.
In the restaurant the cheapest bottle of wine is €20 while a bottle of Chateauneneuf-du-Pape Domaine Duclaux will cost you €50.
In terms of food the soup of the day will set you back €2.50, while a toasted BLT is €6.50.
For lunch, a roast sirloin of beef with red wine jus is just €8.95. Baked salmon served with preserved lemon and roasted red peppers or a roast loin of bacon with Dijon mustard sauce are even cheaper options at only €7.95 each.
Steak or prawn main courses are said to be the most popular in the evening and these typically cost in or around €16.
Under new plans, the Houses of the Oireactas say that the current tab facility available to TDs and Senators in Leinster House - which has no specific time period to settle unpaid tabs - will be changed to a revised credit policy which give members a specific time in which to pay their bills.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that TDs and senators who don't pay their bills should have the money deducted from their salaries.