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Smoked salmon TDs' €1m dinner bill

OUR politicians are still dining in style behind the closed doors of Leinster House.

TDs and senators have been chomping down smoked salmon, lamb cutlets and roast duck like never before.

As the country went down the tubes and household budgets were reigned in at unprecedented levels, business was booming in the Oireachtas restaurants.

Sales at the cafeterias have broken the €1m mark for the first time, the Herald can reveal. TDs and senators appear to have been taking full advantage of their taxpayer subsidised restaurants.

Last week, the Herald uncovered how sales at the Dail bar had soared to over €300,000 during 2008.

Now profit and loss accounts for the Oireachtas restaurants tell a similar story, with sales jumping over 16pc to €1.06m.

But a significant proportion of the profits that could have been pumped back into the Exchequer was actually spent on flowers and serviettes.

A whopping €30,249 was forked out for serviettes and crockery, an increase of nearly €9,000 from the year before.

But the sweet scent of flowers has been reduced with the bill for blooms trimmed from over €8,000 to €3,786.

The Oireachtas restaurant cartel includes a self-service canteen, members' lounge, a function room and a coffee shop. The varied menu consists of cheaply priced starters, main courses and desserts.

Recent options have included Roast Irish Beef, with Yorkshire Pudding for just €7.65 or Grilled Lamb Cutlets for €10.50. Prime Fillet Steak costs €15.95.

The most recent P&L accounts show that ordinary sales reached just over €1m, which was added to staff meals costing €48,000. This was well up on the 2007 figures but the cost of sales also rose by €101,000 to €654,693.

Expenses deducted from the gross profit of €407,588 included a laundry and cleaning bill of €62,882, staff costs of €41,875 and IT development which cost €13,400.

Sundry expenses include a €2,178 spend on uniforms and €5,520 on menus.

An investment of €20,263 was also made for kitchen equipment, leaving the final profit at €138,972.