TDs and Senators told no more credit in Dáil bar or restaurant without an automatic pay deduction system

TDs and Senators have been told not to ask for credit at the Dáil bar or restaurant unless they set up a new automatic pay system.

Politicians have been informed that they will have to pay their bills immediately if they do not sign up to a new catering policy.

The new policy – which comes into effect on Monday – will see unpaid bills deducted from their bank account or pay cheque if not paid after two months.

The Oireachtas wrote to every TD and Senator earlier this week informing them of the new policy and asking if they wanted to set up a credit account.

It will bring to an end the era of politicians running up large bills on tick, which resulted in more than €5,000 in debt having to be written off last year.

The politicians have also been asked to clear any outstanding Dáil bar or restaurant bills they may have from the old system.

If they choose not to set up an account, TDs and Senators have been advised that no credit facility will be available to them.

The letter said: “Out of courtesy to the catering and bar staff, members who opt not to re-open a credit facility or who do not return completed application and deduction mandate forms, should not seek credit from staff when purchasing any food or drink items in any of the bars and/or restaurants after 23 April.”

The politicians were also sent an application form to complete to set up a credit facility.

It provides the option for “outstanding aged debt balances” to be automatically deducted from either their credit or debit card or as a salary deduction.

“A credit period of two calendar months from the date of the statement of account will be provided; thereafter any outstanding amounts will be classed as ‘aged debt’ and automatically deducted,” said the letter.

TDs and Senators were urged to return their completed forms quickly so that they could ensure “a seamless credit facility transition”.

Under the new system, they will be sent a monthly statement advising how much they owe, with purchases made in April charged in early July, the letter explained.

“If you have obtained credit and wish to avoid a salary or credit/debit card deduction, you can settle your account directly by any of the usual payment methods,” it said.

TDs and Senators can shut down their credit facility entirely and opt to go for “pay as you go” system, as would apply in virtually every bar or restaurant in Ireland.

The form also includes a declaration authorising the automatic deduction of money and an acceptance that they are responsible for all expenditure on their account.

If the credit or debit card is declined, they have to accept a condition that it will instead be taken from their next salary cheque.

They were provided as well with a full page “privacy statement” explaining why the Oireachtas would be retaining personal information about their bar and restaurant bills.

It warned that details from the accounts could potentially end up released under the Freedom of Information requests or court order.

A spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said: “Each TD and Senator got a letter advising them that the new policy comes into effect from April 23.”

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