THE firm behind Irish Psychics Live, founded by space buff Tom Higgins has crashed back to earth and gone out of business.
This follows the regulator of the sector, ComReg, confirming yesterday that the firm behind what was Ireland's most high profile and controversial premium phoneline service has ceased trading.
A spokesman for ComReg confirmed that Realm Communications Ltd – which operated as Irish Psychics Live – has advised that it no longer operates any premium-rate phone services.
The Revenue Commissioners published a notice in a national newspaper confirming that it has petitioned for the High Court to wind up Realm Communications Ltd.
A petition is to be heard before the High Court on February 3 and Revenue has advised any creditor who wishes to support or oppose the winding up order to attend the court.
The business was established by ex-journalist Tom Higgins in 1998 and built up a large cash pile over the years before Mr Higgins and his wife, Theresa Dunne, cashed out in 2009, sharing a dividend payout of €9m.
The colourful Mr Higgins has previously declared his intention to be the first Irish person in space on board Richard Branson's Virgin Galactia after paying $200,000 for the privilege.
Callers to the premium phone line were charged €2.40 per minute for instant psychic readings and the rates were the subject of calls to 'Liveline' and an on-air spat on RTE between Pat Kenny and Mr Higgins.
The website for Irish Psychics Live – no longer operating – stated that it was "operated by genuine Celtic psychics, the most psychic race in the world".
Mr Higgins sold Realm Communications Ltd to Gavin Hickey and Maxine Payne in 2009 and the most recent figures show that after his departure as director, the firm quickly became loss-making, recording a pre-tax loss of €315,225 in 2010 after recording a post-tax profit of €1.1m in 2009.
The figures for the 12 months to the end of April 30 2010, show that €805,714 was owed to Revenue.
Efforts to obtain comment from the firm by phone and email were unsuccessful.