Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has today cricitised the practice of allowing Oireachtas members the privilege of buying food and drink in Leinster House on credit, whilst welcoming new measures to ensure that these tabs will at least be cleared by Oireachtas members going forward.
Deputy Munster said:
“Any measure designed to ensure that Oireachtas members pay their debts is of course to be welcomed. I would question the practice of giving TDs and Senators the option of credit in the first place.”
“It’s a privilege not afforded to anyone else, and I think it should be scrapped completely.”
A letter was sent to all Oireachtas members this week which outlined a new credit policy for use of the Dáil bars and restaurants.
The policy requires that TDs and Senators must register before seeking to make purchases on credit, and also provides for a facility where any debts will taken from the salary of the Oireachtas member the month following the end of the credit period.
A recent report by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission disclosed that almost €5,500 in unpaid Dáil catering tabs had to be written off, because the politicians involved would not settle their bills.
Deputy Munster said:
“You couldn’t make it up. In what other workplace are there two bars, where people can buy drink and food on credit?”
“The Dáil is a place of work, and I see no reason for bars on the premises, in particular the Private Members’ Bar from which staff and visitors are prohibited.”
“If an ordinary mother can’t go into a restaurant and demand food on credit, I don’t see why Oireachtas members are afforded that privilege.”
“I welcome the fact that debts will now be paid by TDs and Senators. Before this change in policy, sleveen politicians would bring up groups of constituents and make big men of themselves buying rounds of drinks, and presumably votes, and then never paying for them.”
“This was making fools of constituents who went home thinking their local politician had bought them food or drink, when in fact they themselves, as taxpayers, were picking up the tab.”
“I have written to the Ceann Comhairle expressing the view that this culture needs to stop. There is no justification for it”.
“This privilege afforded to TDs, allowing them Dáil tabs for wining and dining has to stop.”