TDs can drink away as Dail bar curb axed
A CHARGE-CARD system to prevent politicians running up massive tabs in the Dail bar (pictured ) and restaurant will not be introduced.
The Herald can reveal that the Oireachtas has scrapped plans to bring a pay-first, drink-later system.
Following a review, the proposal has been deemed too costly and complicated to introduce, a spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas confirmed.
This means that our politicians can continue to run up massive interest-free tabs at the bar.
Last July, the Herald revealed how TDs and senators racked up a €70,000 bill in the Dail bar and restaurant since the election - with €8,000 owed by those who lost their seats.
"The audit committee was briefed on possible alternative methods of payment for use in the Oireachtas bar and restaurant to streamline methods of payment for bar/catering facilities on a day to day basis," the spokesman said.
But he added: "The committee was advised the current system best suits the circumstances of the bar and restaurant customers, particularly as the majority of customers use cash for their transactions."
He said any advantage of bringing in a cashless system, via use of swipe cards, "would have to be weighed up against the cost and complication" of the changeover.
"It was found that the costs of introducing a cashless system would be prohibitive and outweigh any benefits," he added.
Independent TD for Dublin North Central Finian McGrath said he still feels "very strongly" that TDs and Senators who earn good salaries "should pay their bills on time".
"I'm disappointed they were not able to introduce the new system. I also think we have to be vigilant about how we do our business in the current economic climate," he said.
In the wake of Herald revelations, Oireachtas bosses had vowed to investigate a new pre-pay system. Following the expose, Leinster House officials said a pre-paid charge card - to be topped up - could be introduced to curb the bills.
By the end of last April, bills of more than €60,000 had been accumulated.