Dáil bar opening hours to be investigated

The issue of whether the late-night Dáil bar should have its hours reduced to normal bar hours is to be examined by an Oireachtas committee dedicated to overseeing rules for politicians in Leinster House.

The move follows the recent late night Dáil abortion debate in which one of the bars at Leinster House remained open until after 5am. There were calls afterwards for TDs who have been drinking alcohol to be banned from voting.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams called for TDs drinking during votes and debates to be barred from entering the chambers.

Mr Adams wrote to the Dáil Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, on the final day of the house’s proceedings last week and referred to recent “boisterous” behaviour by members which he suggested was down to the late bar.

The Louth TD wrote: “I’m sure you may be further concerned with the declining standards of behaviour and the increased boisterous and raucous outbursts during late sittings, which I believe are linked to the longer opening hours.”

Mr Adams also asked the Ceann Comhairle to clarify if the two Dáil bars did have a licence, saying he had been told they did not.

He has asked Mr Barrett and his officials to examine whether the Dáil bars “should be subject to the same licensing laws as other bars”.

He also raised the matter of the effects on staff of long hours and the rights of staff regarding working hours and conditions.

A spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas yesterday confirmed that the Ceann Comhairle had passed the letter to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP), of which Mr Barrett is a member.

The Oireachtas spokes-man confirmed that Mr Barrett had referred the issues in the letter to the CPP, which is expected to meet once the Dáil resumes in September.

The all-night debate on the abortion legislation in earlier this month was overshadowed when Cork East TD Tom Barry pulled his Fine Gael colleague, Cork North West TD Áine Collins, onto his lap. Mr Barry admitted he had been drinking before going into the chambers to vote.


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