One sign that excessive drinking in the Dail has become an issue: when a leading politician calls for reduced hours in the in-house bar.
The Irish Sun reports that 300 alcoholic beverages – costing approximately €1,400 – were bought at the Dail members’ bar on the night of the historic abortion debate in July.
The €1,400 bar bill was racked up on the the same night that the infamous “lapgate” incident occurred. The incident, which was captured on video, involved Fine Gael TD Tom Barry offered to “warm up” Fellow Fine Gael TD Aine Collins and pulling her onto his lap.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, TD from Louth, told the Sun that he had “raised concerns with [the speaker of the Dail] and these figures bear out those concerns.
“They certainly seem to suggest that an awful lot of drink was consumed on those two nights in the Members’ Bar,” he added.
Following the incident, which went viral on Youtube, Irish Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte insisted that he didn’t see anyone drinking to excess during the debate.
He told Breakingnews.ie: “There wasn't anybody in my sight in the last vote which I think was about 4:50 am this morning who had any sign of having taken alcohol to excess.”
The members’ bar was open until 5 am, and apparently did brisk business in the 48-hour period surrounging the debate. The Sun reports that, as the politicians discussed women’s access to potentially life-saving emergency procedures, the total takings were in excess of €10,000, including 59 quarter bottles of wine, 50 spirits and 300 pints.