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Lord of the Rings Michael stumps up as dark forces gather

Michael Healy-Rae would've scratched his head in bafflement, but that would have entailed first removing his black flat-cap, which would never do.

"Well, you wouldn't have to be Einstein to figure out that there's a little bit of a something going on," he suggested.

Au contraire, as they say in Kerry. The complexities and imponderables surrounding just who put the 'dial' into 'Dail Eireann' would send Albert Einstein crying for his mother. Although it does involve a Theory of Relativity of sorts -- the relatives being a father-and-son double act.

The furore surrounding the €2,639-worth of calls made from Leinster House in phone votes to RTE's 'Celebrities Go Wild', was showing no signs of running out of steam.

And even though the Lord of the Rings was one of the few souls in Ireland with a cast-iron alibi for the Mystery of the Moving Finger, the screws were slowly being tightened around Michael's wallet.

The Kerry South TD was being assailed from all sides by demands that he should stump up for the calls, given that it was the taxpayers who were left to foot the bill.

But what put the tin cap on it was an unusually blunt declaration from the Taoiseach. While visiting Facebook's HQ in Ringsend yesterday morning, Enda delivered an uncharacteristically pithy verdict. "It might be funny, if it wasn't as serious as it is. Celebrities do go wild. This money should be paid back, full stop," he stated unsmilingly.

Then it was only a matter of time before the Kilgarvan Kid bit the bullet. By lunchtime he was doing the Stations of the Cross with Sean O'Rourke on Radio One.

"There was incitement to phone going on, wasn't there?" spluttered Sean indignantly.

Having survived that grilling, Michael then made the long lonely walk across the Leinster House plinth where a mighty crew of media were waiting.

There's no doubt about it, but when it comes to generating a headline-grabbing hullaballoo, the Healy-Raes are box-office, Kerry gold.

Far from being a bit mortified about the whole imbroglio, Michael was in fact feeling a bit virtuous.

He was insistent that it wasn't a case of paying any money back, for all proceeds of the event went to People in Need, but that he was going to pay the bill for the calls anyway.

"What I'm doing is, every person who made those phone calls, I'm paying for every one of their phone calls now. I'm the only person in Ireland who's paying for other persons' phone bills. But I'll do it," he explained bravely.

It was so touching a moment that even the feisty Fourth Estate forbore to point out that every taxpayer in Ireland does in fact pony up for other persons' phone bills.

Who does he imagine ultimately pays the Leinster House phone bills?

"My father was not involved in any of this," stressed Michael. "Remember, at that time my father was extremely busy, and he'd enough to be doing in doing his job not to be involved in this type of thing," he stressed.

But what type of thing was it at all? Michael had his suspicions that this story hadn't just serendipitously fallen out of the sky.

"Wouldn't a person have to ask the question, where did this come from? What is the agenda?" he pondered.

It seems that there are dark forces massing against the Lord of the Rings. But who could it be? Who could be out to nobble Kerry's finest?

Michael reckoned "there's a little bit of a something going on".

Dear, oh dear. Is this just the opening salvo in a phoney war?

Irish Independent