TD Mulherin says her calls to Africa were not personal
MAYO Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin has admitted making telephone calls to Africa from her Dail office, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Ms Mulherin's admission comes after it was alleged almost €2,000 of taxpayer's money was spent calling an individual mobile phone number in Kenya.
However, in a statement to the Irish Independent, Ms Mulherin denied she was using her taxpayer-funded Dail phone to make personal calls.
"Yes I have made some calls to Africa - none were personal," she said.
"Indeed for the most part they related to a third party, a private citizen, who has been maligned and defamed in a newspaper article because of association. I am not at liberty to comment further on that," she added.
"At all times I have carried out my duties at Leinster House with integrity and propriety."
Ms Mulherin said she has seen "speculation in the media" but has not been contacted by the Oireachtas or Leinster House officials in relation to the phone calls. "I don't know who is referred to," she added.
"I am contacting the Ceann Comhairle in his capacity as chair of the Oireachtas Commission which runs the Houses of Parliament because of my being identified by media."
'The Sunday Times' yesterday revealed Ms Mulherin was the only TD or Senator who was listed as being present on the Dail register when calls were made to a specific number in Kenya.
Ms Mulherin has a Kenyan friend, Danson Kole, who worked on her successful 2011 election campaign.
Details of the calls to Kenya emerged in Freedom of Information documents released to RTE.
It is not against Oireachtas rules for TDs or senators to make calls to foreign countries.
A record is not kept of calls made by parliamentarians for confidentiality reasons.
However the Oireachtas does seek refunds from civil servants who make expensive calls.
In 2011, Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae agreed to pay €2,500 to the taxpayer after it was revealed his father Jackie's phone was used to make 3,000 calls to a reality television show competition in which Michael was appearing.