X-rated chatline's models warned: 'Stay away from Mayo'
Models from a UK adult television station have been told they will not be welcome in Mayo when they come to apologise for a scenario that saw Westport residents inundated with calls.
Babestation, a British channel advertising x-rated chatlines, has been at the centre of controversy after it was revealed households were unwittingly answering calls of an adult nature.
Regional Development Minister Michael Ring was forced to contact television regulators and gardaí after his constituents were bombarded with calls from adult chatline callers.
The station operates a premium rate phone service with the 0982 prefix for British callers.
However, it appears that when Irish callers tried to make contact with the chatline they were connected to homes in the west Mayo area which have an 098 prefix.
Last night, Babestation issued a statement apologising for the inconvenience caused to people living in Westport.
"Babestation recognise this as an innocent misunderstanding and it is extremely aware that disappointed callers in Ireland, whose intention it was to speak to one of the Babestation girls, may have inadvertently reached homes on the west coast of Ireland," a statement said.
"It also recognises the impact that this has had on those that may have received these calls, and would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
"Babestation is keen to stress, and will continue to do so publicly, that when dialling a UK number, the '0' should be replaced by '00 44'," it added.
The adult station said it planned to visit Westport with two models and speak to residents as a "show of support and recognition".
However, Mr Ring insisted the station and its models were not wanted in Westport.
"All we want them to do is change the phone numbers so residents are not annoyed by these calls," Mr Ring told the Irish Independent.
"We don't want them down here."
Communications Minister Denis Naughten has said he's "deeply concerned" about the situation.
The communications regulator Comreg and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland are aware of the problem but cannot directly intervene as Babestation is a UK-based channel.
Comreg has committed to working with the UK's Phone Paid Services Authority (PSA) to bring about a solution.