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As the late night sittings on significant and important abortion legislation was being discussed, the wisdom of the house was to keep the Dail bar open until five in the morning so that members of the house could have a libation while other members were in equal measure debating, discussing and waffling over the bill. However those who clocked into ‘work’ decided to go to the bar whilst the debate was ongoing. In fairness many were only hanging around waiting to be told how to vote by their party whips, even though due to the late hour, one Labour TD pressed the wrong button, but sure that’s the pressure of late night Dail sittings.
In what workplace would there be a facility that allowed employees to drink in work and furthermore, drink until five in the morning! Normal drinking up time during the week in Ireland is 11.30pm is most public houses, but the Dail bar is open as long as the Houses of the Oireachtas is sitting and is a private members club that is there for the convenience and privilege of TD’s and Senators alone.
The Fine Gael TD, Tom Barry, who had been drinking in the Dail bar earlier, thought it appropriate to drag his colleague Aine Collins onto his lap during the abortion debate sittings, but claimed his behaviour was not influenced by excessive drinking, I wouldn’t like to know what kind of behaviour he thinks is appropriate in the workplace after a few jars if that’s the case. The “Lapgate” controversy is one isolated incidence of politicians behaving like idiots but there are many more and in many cases alcohol is involved.
Brian Cowen, trended all over the world after his “tired and emotional” performance on RTE’s Morning Ireland when he appeared to sound like he was slurring his words after a night of festivity and singsongs, he was lampooned on Jay Lenos talk show in the states at the height of Irelands economic difficulties.
As the debate on Irelands abortion legislation was being discussed, the house was half empty with only those speaking on the bill present in the chamber, one has to suppose that the rest were having great ‘craic’ in the late night ‘Dail Discotheque’. Then their fun was spoilt by the prefect whips who rounded up the lads and lassies and told them which buttons to press, most most managed to get this right and not vote against the three line whip imposed by their parties on the issue. Good to see they can still carry out the basic functions of legislating for the rest of us after a night on the town.
The opening hours in the Dail Bar are now facing greater scrutiny after deputies didn’t exactly shower themselves in glory after reports of their after hours behaviour and practices. The Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, has decided to refer the opening hours for review to the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, even though he has previously said that the members bar is the only place of solace for hard working TD’s and senators to go, “to have some privacy”.
The decision to refer the opening hours to the CPP is precipitated by a request by the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams who claimed that some TD’s were drunk during another sitting, which was discussing the liquidation of Anglo Irish Bank earlier this year. This is a good start to begin with on Dail reform, but other issues are essential such as earlier starts for the Dail, longer hours, more days sitting and less holidays, because surprisingly enough, the first and foremost priority of TD’s and Senators is supposed to be to legislate on behalf of the electorate!