Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he was "shocked" by the revelation that a whopping €1,440.80 was spent on alcohol in the Dail bar on the night of the late-night vote on the abortion bill.
"I have to say I was quite shocked when I say that figure, and I'm quite sure that people will be appalled," he said, adding that members were "intoxicated" that evening.
The Members Bar in Leinster House stayed open until 5am on the morning of Thursday July 12th while TDs were in the chamber participating in the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. It was the night of the controversial 'Lapgate' incident when Fine Gael TD Tom Barry was caught on camera in the Dáil chamber pulling fellow Cork TD Áine Collins into his lap during the early hours of the morning.
Speaking at Sinn Fein's pre-Dail parliamentary party meeting in Carlingford, Co Louth today, Deputy Adams called for more regulation of the Leinster House bars.
"It's just a huge argument for the proposition that Sinn Fein had put forward is that the Dail Bar should be regulated the same as every other licensed premises across this State," he said.
"When you come down to the fact that this is the legislature - and I made the charge at the time that there were people there who were intoxicated - it's clear that they were intoxicated".
This view was echoed by Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. "What I find absolutely shocking in all of this is that anyone would imagine it appropriate to turn up for work with drink on them," she said. "I don't care what area of work you're in or what your job is, you come to work sober, and while you are at your desk and at work you remain sober. I think that's the standard for people in every other walk of life and it is absolutely no different for us as politicians."
A total of €1,440.80 was spent on 313 alcoholic drinks on the night of the debate. The bill, which included 179 pints of Guinness and lager as well as a single Hamlet cigar, eventually came to €1,440.80.
Separate to the figures for alcohol, 176 coffees and teas as well as food were ordered at the bar, which closed at 5.31am on July 12th.
On the same night, a bill of €3,572 worth of food and drink was rung through the tills in the visitors’ bar, where TDs and senators normally entertain their guests.
The practice of keeping the Dáil bar open during late-night sittings has been the subject of much controversy in recent years.
In February, when the Dáil and Seanad sat late to pass emergency legislation to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, Gerry Adams told the Dáil the bar should be shut or a breathalyser test be introduced for members coming into the chamber.