The Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has vowed to pay back the money which was spent on calls from Leinster House, that helped him win a celebrity television contest.
In total 3,636 premium rate calls were made from a phone within Leinster House to vote for Healy-Rae when he appeared on RTÉ’s Celebrities Go Wild contest in 2007. The cost of the calls was more than $4000 (€2,600).
The Independent TD said today that he had played no part in the phone-calls. Initially he had refused to pay the money but later changed his mind saying the issues was deflecting from the main issue facing Ireland, the economy.
“Every person who made those phone calls, I’m paying for every one of their phone calls now,” the Kerry South TD said out side Leinster House yesterday.
“I’m the only person in Ireland that’s paying for other people’s phone bills.” He added: “I’m a good honest, hard working politician.
The houses of the Irish Oireachtas have said they are unable to pinpoint the exact source of the calls.
“I want to be allowed to continue with that job and I cannot if this is hanging out there, and if people are going to be saying, well will the money be paid or won’t the money be paid.
“I don’t owe the money, but there’s nobody else going to come along as far as I can see and say they’re going to pay it.”
$4,000 in votes for reality TV show cast from Irish parliament phoneline
“I have no problem in the world with any investigation. Out of all the people in the country, the one person who couldn’t have done this is myself,” he said.
“If things are going to be investigated the whole use of phones in the Houses of the Oireachtas should be looked into and checked.
“Because again, other people did whatever they did and they should answer for it.”
The Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny said that all the cost of the calls should be paid back.
“It might be funny if it weren’t as serious as it is. This money should be paid back, full stop. It should never have happened,” Kenny said yesterday morning.