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Don't expect us to pay for TDs' drinks

Running the country is obviously thirsty work.

Deep in the bowels of Leinster House, TDs enjoy access to a bar that serves the cheapest pints in Dublin. The pub is so close to the Dail chamber that any enterprising deputy should be able to make it from their whiskey and soda to the voting lobby in 20 seconds.

While nobody grudges our politicians a bit of liquid refreshment every now and again, is it too much to ask them to pay their way?

We are living in a country where nobody can get credit from the banks, public spending is being slashed and people on the dole are lectured by ministers for choosing social welfare as "a lifestyle choice". Under those circumstances, the news that a group of ex-TDs want the taxpayer to foot an unpaid €8,000 Dail bar and restaurant bill seems deliberately calculated to make the public even madder than usual.

February's General Election was notable for its high turnover of Dail deputies, with around half of our 166 TDs leaving -- some voluntarily, others because they received some gentle persuasion from the electorate.

In every single case, they left with a handsome pension designed to protect them from the trauma of having to become a mere civilian again. As the Government never tires of reminding us, Ireland is living way beyond its means. The least we should expect from our politicians is that they pay for their own drinking sprees.

If these cheapskate ex-TDs refuse to stump up, the Leinster House authorities should send around a debt collector -- and remind the shameless freeloaders that they're back in the real world now.