Dáil bar stayed open until 5am

Practice of keeping bar open during late-night sittings subject of criticism in recent months

There was much focus yesterday on the merits of having such a prolonged sitting, or of keeping the Dáil bar open so late.

There was much focus yesterday on the merits of having such a prolonged sitting, or of keeping the Dáil bar open so late.

 


The bar reserved for TDs and Senators in the Dáil stayed open until shortly before the final vote was taken on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill at 5am yesterday.

There was much focus yesterday on the merits of having such a prolonged sitting, or of keeping the bar open so late.

There are two bars in the Dáil, one reserved for members, the other for visitors, who must be accompanied by a TD or Senator. Neither is public but both have licences. The rules relating to the members’ bar is that it can stay open until two hours after a sitting has been completed. Under those rules, the bar could have stayed open until 7am yesterday.

The practice of keeping the bar open during late-night sittings has been the subject of criticism in recent months. On the night the Dáil and Seanad sat late in February to rush through emergency legislation to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (the former Anglo Irish Bank), Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams told the Dáil the bar should be closed or a breathalyser test be introduced for members coming into the chamber.

His remarks were met with outrage by TDs from other parties.

The late-night sitting of the House was excoriated as “shambolic and lamentable” by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil yesterday. He was scathing of the decision by Government chief whip Paul Kehoe to inform other whips by text at 9.57pm that the sitting was to be extended until 5am.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, representing the Government, responded by saying the quality of the debate had been generally high.