Unpaid Dáil bar bills written off over failure to settle tabs
New credit policy is being devised by Oireachtas officials for TDs and Senators
The Dáil Chamber: TDs and Senators can avail of a tab facility when ordering drinks or bar food in Leinster House, which they can pay off later. Photograph: Alan Betson
Unpaid Dáil bar bills have been written off because there is “no realistic prospect of recovery of the sums due”, according to a report circulated to politicians in recent days.
A revised credit policy is being developed to restrict the time period during which TDs and Senators are obliged to settle their accounts in the restaurant and bar in the Leinster House complex after a review of outstanding balances was carried out.
“In the case of certain historical balances, the likelihood of recovery of the sums due was remote. A series of efforts had been made to recover the sums due but in some cases it was acknowledged that the records were incomplete,” the report stated.
“Overall there was no realistic prospect of recovery of the sums due.”
The recently published Houses of the Oireachtas Commission annual report, delivered in hard copy to TDs and Senators on Wednesday, noted the amount involved was “very small” in the overall context of the bar and restaurant receipts.
The Oireachtas members who had failed to settle their bills were not named in the report, and it is not clear whether they were former or current members.
TDs and Senators can avail of a tab facility when ordering drinks or bar food in Leinster House, which they can pay off later. Traditionally, there has been no specified time limit in which unpaid tabs must be settled.
The Houses of the Oireachtas catering facilities consist of a members’ restaurant, a self-service restaurant, a coffee dock and two bars, one of which is exclusively for members.
Delayed payments have been a recurring issue for Oireachtas staff who have frequently been tasked with chasing politicians to pay off bills over the years.
A spokesman for the Oireachtas said: “The majority of the write-offs were technical and a book-keeping tidy up of old accounts over many years. There was minimal loss to the exchequer. Many of the amounts outstanding were old with no reasonable chance of settling the account.
“As referenced in the annual report, a revised credit policy is being developed further restricting the time period in which a debtor is to discharge a bill. That will be presented to the commission before the end of the year.”
Figures released to The Irish Times last year show TDs and Senators owed a combined €5,405 to the Oireachtas visitors and members bars when the 31st Dáil was dissolved.
Staff had some success in getting public representatives to settle outstanding bills but €4,000 was still owed as of March 10th, 2016, with 20 TDs and 13 Senators among the debtors.