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Sunday 19 November 2017

Dail bar hours facing a cut

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE opening hours of the controversial Dail bar are facing a cut under a review by the body that sets the rules for TDs in Leinster House.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett has decided to refer the opening hours of the bar – which is only for TDs and senators – to the Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP).

The members' bar in Leinster House currently stays open as long as the Dail is sitting. The review follows the "Lapgate" controversy, which saw Fine Gael TD Tom Barry pull colleague Aine Collins on to his lap during the late-night abortion sittings.

The bar was open until 5am that morning, and Mr Barry said he had been in it prior to the incident but had not been drinking excessively.

In contrast to the members' bar, the visitors' bar – where members of the public can get a drink in the Leinster House complex – only operates normal opening hours.

But Mr Barrett has previously defended the members' bar, saying it was the only place TDs and senators could go "to have some privacy".

PURITANICAL

The CPP is made up entirely of TDs themselves, and as well as Mr Barrett, who chairs the committee, its membership includes Chief Whip Paul Kehoe, FG deputy whip Joe Carey, Labour whip Emmet Stagg and deputy whip John Lyons, Fianna Fail whip Sean O Fearghail and others such as Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh.

Mr Barrett's decision to refer it to the CPP comes after a request from SF leader Gerry Adams, who asked that the bar keep normal opening hours.

Mr Adams previously claimed some TDs were drunk during another late-night sitting earlier this year, which was held for the liquidation of the former Anglo Irish Bank as part of the promissory note deal.

But Mr Stagg – who did not want to comment on the opening hours – said: "Gerry Adams would take a very puritanical view of things. Sackcloth and ashes for everybody."

The CPP is also examining a number of Dail reform measures, such as beginning the Dail day earlier than its normal 10.30am start.

Irish Independent

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