Parliament speaker calls for an end to boozing MPs

Finland’s Speaker of Parliament has denounced MPs drinking on the job in the wake of several alcohol-related scandals.

Writing in his blog last week, Eero Heinäluoma said, “I feel that it is self-evident and a part of common sense that the duties of an MP cannot be fulfilled while drunk or intoxicated.”

The matter has been put in the spotlight recently after tabloid newspaper Iltalehti reported that Coalition Party MP Sampsa Kataja was drunk in a parliamentary session in December. It was also revealed this week that Finns Party MP Teuvo Hakkarainen is seeking treatment for alcoholism.

MPs were only informed about Hakkarainen’s condition on 6th March after the latest scandal surrounding him arose. It was reported that the right-wing politician had left his briefcase at the clubhouse of the Bandidos motorcycle gang while intoxicated.

Hakkarainen has also received two other warnings about his behaviour, once when making racist comments in a Helsingin Sanomat video in April last year and again in autumn when he said gays, lesbians and Somalis should be sent to the Åland Islands.

The Finns parliamentary group leader Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner confirmed that Hakkarainen is expected to continue in his role while undergoing treatment. While some MPs have pondered whether he is a plant aimed at bringing disgrace to the party, Finns chairman Timo Soini said Hakkarainen’s condition is no longer a cause for concern.

“It is good that he has sought help. It is no further business of mine,” Soini said, according to Helsingin Sanomat. “Hakkarainen has the same human rights, and the right to privacy, as everyone else,” he added.

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