TDs and Senators run up €1,500 bar tab on ‘Lapgate’ night

Politicians take advantage of Dáil bar’s liberal opening hours during abortion debate

The incident in Dáil chamber involving two Fine Gael TDs took place during the marathon debate last evening.

 

TDs and Senators took full advantage of the Dáil bar’s liberal opening hours during the all-night debate on the abortion legislation, running up a bar tab of nearly €1,500.

The bar, which is reserved for TDs and Senators, stayed open until 5.30am on the morning of July 12th shortly before the final vote was taken on the controversial Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill .

It was also the night of the infamous “lapgate” incident when Cork East Fine Gael TD Tom Barry pulled fellow Cork deputy Aine Collins into his lap.

According to till receipts from the bar, some 313 alcoholic drinks were downed by thirsty legislators during the marathon session.

The bill, which included 179 pints of beer as well as a single Hamlet cigar, eventually came to €1,440.80.

An itemised breakdown showed 105 pints of lager were purchased at a cost of €493.50, and 74 pints of Guinness costing €318.20.

There were also 31 quarter bottles of wine costing €170.50, 31 long neck bottles of beer costing €145.70, some 29 vodkas and gins costing €118.90, 22 pints of Smithwicks costing €94.60 and 17 brandys at a cost of €85.

On the same night, a bill of €3,572 worth of food and drink was rung through the tills in the visitors’ bar, where TDs and senators normally entertain their guests.

The practice of keeping the Dáil bar open during late-night sittings has been the subject of much controversy in recent times.

In February, when the Dáil and Seanad sat late to pass emergency legislation to liquidate the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, formerly 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.

July’s late-night sitting for the abortion debate was later described Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as “shambolic ”. He also criticised a 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.

However, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, inisted the quality of the debate on the night had been “generally high”.

Following the “Lapgate” controversy, Mr Barry issued an immediate apology for his actions and was reprimanded by Fine Gael over his behaviour but the incident was captured on Dáil Eireann cameras.

Ms Collins described the incident as offensive, saying such an incident had never happened to her in any other workplace situation

“It was very disrespectful, it was very inappropriate, especially where we were to me personally, but also in the context of the fact we were in the House of parliament”, she said at the time.