Eamon Ryan: People using Dáil bar more 'wouldn't be a bad thing'

The Green Party leader says 80% of the turnover of the bar is on food

Eamon Ryan: People using Dáil bar more 'wouldn't be a bad thing'

Eamon Ryan. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The leader of the Green Party has defended the Oireachtas bar, claiming the majority of money spent there now goes on food.

Eamon Ryan is a member of the Dáil's Committee on Procedure and Privilege, which has been asked by Sinn Féin to limit the bar's hours.

The Irish Independent reports that the committee examined a proposal from Gerry Adams, who is said to have a "range of concerns" about the availability of alcohol in Leinster House.

Deputy Ryan, however, says there's no need to change the current arrangement - and in fact suggested more people should be encouraged to avail of the members bar.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "Deputy Adams has written several times, going back to 2013 & 2014... and I think it's the basic principle of having a bar in the workplace is his objection.

"I went into the Dáil members bar at 10 o'clock last night. The Dáil was sitting until 11, we were debating the Finance Bill. There were how many people in the bar? Two."

He claimed the sale of alcohol in the bar has decreased dramatically over the last ten years, observing: "You know what does well? Food. 80% of the turnover of the Dáil bar is on food."

He added that the gym across the road is "packed" every morning, whereas the bar has gotten quieter.

However, Deputy Ryan believes that a bar at Leinster House is actually needed.

He argued: "Irish politics... I don't know where Sinn Féin's Gerry has his meetings up in Louth, but I bet you it's probably in a pub. Most of our meetings are in a pub... it's not a bad thing to have a social aspect to politics."

While he doesn't think the Dáil bar needs to go, the Green politician does think it's important to listen to the concerns his Oireachtas colleagues have.

He told Paul Williams: "I'm a defender of the Dáil. For all our failings - and we have failings in Irish politics in spades - compared to our neighbours on either side we're actually relatively sane. And part of the way it works in the Dáil, and I think it's right, is you're respectful to other people.

"By and large, most people are working hard, decent people. Part of the culture is having a place where you can, for the most part, go for a cup of coffee with someone else."

He concluded: "We're going to look at how [the bar] works, so that we kind of get people using it more, because that wouldn't be a bad thing... for food!"

Meanwhile, the Houses of the Oireachtas are looking to recruit a part-time bartender for both the visitor and members bars.