Thursday 14 November 2019

FF's Calleary denies any role in 'Pizzagate' prank on fellow deputy

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE TD at the centre of the 'Pizzagate' affair says the prank has helped to highlight the issue of bank repossessions.

The comments by Independent TD Mattie McGrath came as one of the deputies named as being involved -- Mayo TD Dara Calleary -- denied any part in the prank.

Mr McGrath was the subject of a Dail bar prank devised by a group of TDs, who phoned him with an offer of free pizzas during a 10-hour lock-in at a bank headquarters in Dublin.

The prank phone call was made by Labour Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy, who fooled Mr McGrath with his impersonation of a pizza delivery man.

But the Tipperary South TD says his phones were "red" all weekend with people ringing to sympathise with him about the prank.

"People have taken it in very bad taste that they were trying to make an eejit of me, especially on pre-Budget night," he said.

At the time of the phonecall, the Dail members' bar was crowded with more than 40 TDs. Sources said the phone call took place after 11pm – and was partly inspired by the unfounded rumour that Mattie was on hunger strike in the bank building.

But to the horror of the TDs involved, the story of the pizza delivery prank was taken up on RTE's 'Liveline' show yesterday. One of the TDs named on the airwaves as being involved – Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary – told the programme that he had not taken part.

Mr McGrath said that callers had not been impressed with the tale of what the TDs had got up to in the Dail bar.

"Instead of being inside lobbying the Minister for Finance about child benefit and carers, this was all they were doing, warming their a***e off the fire and pranking me," he said.

When the prank call was made, Mr McGrath was staging a sit-in at the headquarters of the Friends First Finance company following an incident involving the attempted repossession of a tractor from a family farm in Wexford.

He left the sit-in after around 10 hours and said that no further action was being taken against the family by the company at present.

Mr McGrath had asked for four pizzas instead of two so that the two gardai in the building could be fed. And for the sake of appearances, he asked the "pizza delivery man" to send the pizzas around the back of the building. Mr McGrath said the "pizzagate" prank had actually helped him by allowing him to highlight the issue of bank repossessions.

Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan has described it as a prank that was made in good spirit, while Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes said there was no harm meant. Fine Gael County TD Patrick O'Donovan, who was also involved, could not be contacted for comment.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News