Bebhinn Farrell has set up a petition to ask Enda Kenny to close the Oireachtas bars.
The Journal recently used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that the two bars in the Oireachtas – one for members only, and one for members and visitors – turned over €300,000 per year in 2011 and 2012. And at the end of June, TDs and Senators owed the bars over €11,000.
On the night of the abortion debate in July, when Fine Gael TD Tom Barry pulled fellow TD Aine Collins onto his lap in the Dail chamber, €1,440 was spent on 313 alcoholic drinks in the Members Bar alone – nearly four times the takings of a random Wednesday night in June – and the two bars combined turned over a total of almost €7,000.
As well as Tom Barry, several other TDs have said they were drinking alcohol that night, and some said that it was nothing compared to the amount that was drunk on the night that the former Anglo Irish Bank was liquidated.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005,
13. An employee shall, while at work … (b) ensure that he or she is not under the influence of an intoxicant to the extent that he or she is in such a state as to endanger his or her own safety, health or welfare at work or that of any other person.
While this is framed in the context of the direct workplace, TDs and Senators at work are passing laws that indirectly affect the lives of every citizen. If their judgment is impaired while passing those laws, they are potentially endangering the the safety, health and welfare of millions of other citizens.
The Office of the Chief Medical Officer for the Civil Service has published a Guide to Alcohol and Drug Misuse in the Workplace. It includes the following statements:
Employees should not present at work if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They should at all time take reasonable care of themselves and also others who may be affected by what they do, including members of the public.
Studies have shown that the majority of the workforce supports a total ban of alcohol during working hours. Some impairment of function can occur after even one drink.
Examples of standard drinks are
- A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
- A small glass of wine (12.5% strength)
- A half pint of normal beer
- An alcopop (275ml bottle)
It is generally considered that up to 3-4 standard drinks a day for men, or up to 2-3 standard drinks a day for women, are not associated with long term health effects.
Binge drinking consists of 6 or more standard drinks in one sitting. Binge drinking is harmful to health and increases the risk of accidents, injuries and violence.
The Western Health Board has published a Guide on Developing an Alcohol and Drug Policy for Your Workplace. It includes the following suggested policies:
Alcohol and other drugs affect concentration, co-ordination and performance. It is recognised that the effects of alcohol and other drugs may spill over from ones private life into the workplace resulting in inefficiency, accidents and absenteeism.
- This policy applies equally to all staff
- All (the organisation) premises are alcohol and drug free during working hours
- Employees shall be alcohol and drug free while on duty
- After work functions and other social events are outside the remit of this policy.
IBEC has published a Guide to Intoxicants in the Workplace. It includes the following statements:
In line with legislation, every organisation should consider drawing up a policy, and include or refer to it in its safety statement. Having an intoxicant policy in place means that employee incidents involving intoxicants, even if isolated, can be dealt with properly, and the potential difficulties of an ad hoc response avoided. The policy may or may not include testing.
An intoxicants policy would normally:
- define the objective of the policy
- clearly define what constitutes a serious breach under the policy
- describe how decisions will be reached in suspected cases of intoxicants use, if testing is not utilised
- indicate the disciplinary action that will be taken
- outline the assistance for addiction
- apply to everyone within the organisation
- define searching policy and limitations (if applicable)
- outline the company approach to reporting of possession of illicit drugs and disciplinary action.
Bebhinn Farrell points out in her petition that:
Approximately 300 drinks costing just over €1,400 were bought at the Dáil members bar on the night of the abortion debate. A debate about life-saving treatment for the women of this country. The massive bill was racked up on the same night the controversial ‘lapgate’ incident took place. Another clear display of lack of professionalism in the workplace of our elected representatives.
TD’s clocked up a bar bill of over €10,000 in the 48-hour period around the abortion debate. 59 quarter-bottles of wine were consumed along with around 300 pints and almost 50 spirits. The figures are taken from till receipts in both the members and visitors bars. The members bar stayed open until 5am in the morning while TD’s were in the chamber participating in the debate. Gerry Adams said it is now clear that some TDs were under the influence of alcohol on the night of the vote.
This is a complete embarrassment to our country, and an insult to the people who elected these politicians to represent them. The Dail bar needs to be closed. What other workplace has an in-house pub, open all hours? This is completely unacceptable. We demand that the Dail bar be closed, and if TD’s wish to drink after work, they go to a nearby pub like every other citizen of this country does. If they wish to drink during work, they should not be in power in any shape or form.