TDs get worked up about the bills that matter, their bar bills
TDs and senators are in "a state of fury" in the wake of a warning that unless they clear their Leinster House bar tabs within 30 days they run the risk of being 'named and shamed' in future replies to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.
The issue of malingering TDs and senators who fail to settle their bar tabs on time has been an ongoing source of difficulty in the cosy confines of the Oireachtas, which has two bars – one for members and another for visitors.
A recent FoI request revealed that whilst the new generation are somewhat less 'sociable' than their predecessors, TDs and senators have, so far in 2012, racked up tabs totalling €73,000 in the Dail restaurant and bar.
The bill for unpaid fare in the restaurant was €65,000, with a further €8,000 owed by TDs and senators to the bar.
While many of the outstanding bills are short-term, almost €30,000 of the tab is owed for four months or more – despite the introduction of a new reminder system, including quarterly letters.
However, the pressure on 'forgetful' TDs and senators to pay up and pay up early has been ratcheted up further in the wake of the warning that future FoI requests will name the amounts owed by our public representatives.
Previous responses to such requests included amounts for individual TDs and senators – but the Oireachtas refused to identify the names of individuals with outstanding bills.
The most recent FoI revealed that of the 170 people who put bills on tab in the Dail restaurant, a total of 12 owed €1,000 or more.
The highest individual outstanding amount was €3,572, of which €3,166 had been owed for over four months.
Sadly, as with many other attempts at modernisation, the new regime of 'zero tolerance' has not been greeted with universal approval.
The old 'Bar Lobby' that flourished during the Cowen years may now be scattered to the four winds but one TD noted: "The lads are furious. It's getting to the stage now that if you order a few rounds of drink you'll get more publicity than being in Stubbs Gazette."
Meanwhile, another TD noted: "We've had quite enough of reforms, thank you very much, without having the zealots coming into the sanctuary of the bar.
"Nothing is sacred now."