The Most Popular Drink in Stormont’s Members Bar?

As the son of a Donegal born bar manager who spent most of his working life in Belfast, I like to sit up and listen when Belfast Barman(ager) has something to say.

He’s been looking at some facts and figures about what they drink in the members bar in Stormont (yep, they’ve got one)… What struck me was just how abstemious they all are…

– The annual turnover of the Members’ bar for the past 3 financial years i.e. 01 April to 31 March is as follows:

2011-12 – £13,399.51

2012-13 – £11,838.50

2013-14 – £7,612.75

I think from memory that the joyous last week of the Star and Garter pub in Holywood at the of 1969 shipped cool £1,000 in old money. Not bad when a bottle of stout was a mere 1s 1d.

In all the bars of Leinster House on one particularly busy night they managed to pot nearly the whole turnover of Stormont’s Members bar in one sitting.

Belfast Barman(ager) was less than impressed:

Stormont is running a shebeen, and throwing money at an industry it has no grasp of understanding…whilst hard working businesses outside the iron gates have to tighten the purse strings to make ends meet, no such worries up in the ivory tower.

What strikes me is a thought from the other side of the table. Why are our MLAs NOT using the bar more often. The tough answer might be because they are barely there and are rarely under the kind of pressure to make the sort of deal that means you need drink.

Oh, and the most popular drink. That would ah, be, ah, an Americano Coffee

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  • Gerard Michael Lynch

    Would be only fair to compare and contrast the till rolls of Stormont with the Dail members’ bar, the visitors’ bar, and the unofficial Parliamentary bar across the road in Buswell’s Hotel. Don’t mention W’minster, tho’…. Labour drinks in the TEA ROOM!

  • Ernekid

    Why on Earth do Parliaments have bars in them? How many other workplaces have a bar?

  • mjh

    Even with no cost for rent and rates that bar must be losing tens of thousands a year between staffing costs, electricity, equipment maintenance, cleaning and the wholesale cost of beverages.
    With the average MLA spending £1.35 per week I doubt if even a vending machine would pay for itself.

  • babyface finlayson

    Americano coffee?
    So much for the theory that they don’t want a caffeinian about the place.
    What’s that? My coat? Thanks, got it.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Thanks for the referral Mick. I had asked for costs and suppliers but because they are all in the hands of Compass, no answer was available. And as for the subsidised catering, I’m fairly sure that should be included on MLA’s declaration of interests as a benefit in kind…

  • Dan

    I can’t think of a single MLA I’d like to have a drink with.

  • mickfealty

    In my book, it’s good practice to have a place where people meet casually and informally. The cafeteria’s usually a din, and whilst the dining room at Stormont is good for formal meals, a bar (coffee, beer or otherwise) is your only man where political congress are concerned.

    In Spain they have them in their secondary schools for goodness sake!!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Applies and oranges old chap.

    “benefit in kind” involves tax and insuring it is paid. This is a matter for the taxman. I am pretty sure that there are rules around employers providing subsidized food, which leads me to think that there is some sort of exception for parliamentary/assembly restaurants and bars.

    “declaration of interests” is a list of the interests of a member in full public view so that any conflicts of interest can be immediately seen.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy Wilson. Gerry Kelly. Dominic Bradley.

  • Comrade Stalin

    A lot of business is done in the Commons in the bars. I actually suspect a great deal of the real business gets done there.

    It’s actually a bit beyond that – there’s a serious problem with alcoholism among some MPs. As most MPs spend several nights a week away from home, some quite far away, it’s easy to see how this problem can take root.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I heard a theory (read: hastily assembled drunken conclusion based on no evidence) that the Palace of Westminster (?) has so many bars on the premises as so many MPs were ‘nipping out’ for a cheeky sharpener and ended up missing voting sessions.
    Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    So the most popular drink up on the hill is caffè Americano!!! How very apposite for Stormont. Dark, rather bitter and pretty diluted!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ho, humm, Comrade, “a list of the interests of a member in full public view” ……..irony?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I wonder if that old chestnut about almost legless mps being carried to the lobby and propelled through has any basis in fact.

  • chrisjones2


    Gin and bitters?

  • Jag

    The obvious action now, if the bar is turning over £8k a year is to close it and replace it with a vending machine (you can vend Americano coffee, right?).

    The cost of labour, facilities, product and management is likely to be a high multiple of £8k. A vending machine company will pay YOU to host their vending machine.

    There, I’ve probably saved £100k from the 2015/6 budget right there.

  • Dan

    I’d rather eat glass than raise a glass with Kelly.

  • Johnny Irish

    I worked in Stormont estate in the 70,s and Paisley had the bars in Castle buildings and Dundonald House closed in 1977!!
    It seems we still elect biblical , puritan type of people !!

  • Tochais Siorai

    £7k turnover, what a miserable shower. Anyway, I can’t imagine Peter or Nigel roaring for pints at closing time but are there any DUP heads who’d have the odd tipple…..away from Stormont obviously?

  • carl marks

    any idea what the stout is like?