Friday, July 09, 2004


A Bit Oirish

We got quite a bit of global publicity here in Ireland recently by virtue of our (justified, in my view) ban on smoking in workplaces. But any stereotype-busting achieved by that publicity may be somewhat undermined by this story on the front page of The Irish Times, which is, as they used to say, a bit Irish (or should I say Oirish?):

"TDs may have been drinking illegally in the Dáil bar for the past 80 years because the premises does not have a licence to serve alcohol.

The Government is to amend the Liquor Licensing Act later this year to provide a licence for the bar following uncertainty over its legal status. "We want to make sure we are fully compliant with the law, and this will definitively put the matter beyond any doubt," an Oireachtas spokeswoman said.

Like the rest of the bar-owners around the country, the Oireachtas is to apply for a licence. There is no guarantee, however, it will receive one. Under existing liquor laws the applicant for a licence must demonstrate to the courts whether he or she is a person of good character. The applicant must also demonstrate that the premises is a fit location.

It will be up to a judge to decide whether the bar, occasionally frequented by deputies with a history of tax-dodging and tribunal-obstruction, is such an appropriate location.

The question of whether the Dáil has been entitled to serve alcohol also raises the intriguing question of whether the people who frame our laws have, all along, been breaking the law themselves.

When the rebel Fine Gael TD, Mr John Deasy, was rapped for smoking in the Dáil bar, he may have flouted more than the smoking ban. Or when the former Fianna Fáil TD, Mr Liam Lawlor, returned to Leinster House from a spell in Mountjoy for a celebratory pint, he may have continued to act in defiance of the State...."

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