Friday 25 May 2018

Ban on premium calls in Oireachtas after scandal

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Senators and TDs have been blocked from ringing premium rate numbers in the wake of the controversy that surrounded the €2,600 charged for calls made in support of Michael Healy-Rae on a celebrity television show.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Dail Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) yesterday. Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, who chairs the CPP, insisted that the committee look at the issue after the Healy-Rae incident.

More than 3,600 phone calls at a total cost of €2,636 were made from Leinster House in support of the Independent Kerry South TD during the 'Celebrities Go Wild' television contest in 2007. Mr Healy-Rae was a county councillor at the time but his father, Jackie, was a TD. Both men have denied that the calls came from Jackie Healy-Rae's phone.

While still insisting they weren't responsible for the call, Michael Healy-Rae last week paid the €2,636 bill to the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas cannot identify which exact phone in Leinster House the calls came from.

The CPP examined a number of options regarding phone calls, including keeping a full record of telephone calls made by TDs, senators and Oireachtas staff. Another proposal is to change the phone calls that can be made from Leinster House, such as banning premium level phone calls -- which was the choice eventually settled on.

Irish Independent

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