Belfast Telegraph

Healy-Rae to pay TV show phone bill

Michael Healy-Rae will pay the 'Ring of Kerry' telephone bill run up at Leinster House which helped secure his victory on a reality TV show.

The second generation Kerry Independent TD denied the refund was a pre-emptive strike to halt an inquiry into the controversial 2,639 euro premium-rate calls.

Mr Healy-Rae insisted neither he nor his father Jackie were behind the high speed dialling that secured the win in RTE's Celebrities Go Wild programme.

"I'm a good, honest, hard working politician," Mr Healy-Rae said.

"I want to be allowed to continue with that job and I cannot if this is hanging out there, and if people are going to be saying, 'well will the money be paid or won't the money be paid?'

"I don't owe the money, but there's nobody else going to come along as far as I can see and say they're going to pay it."

The Kerry politician came under pressure to refund the taxpayer with Dail Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett threatening to raise the matter with a parliamentary watchdog.

Mr Healy-Rae was a Kerry county councillor and mayor when he took part in the RTE show in 2007, broadcast in aid of People in Need.

Eight celebrities, including the late model Katy French, were forced to shun modern living for a week-long trek through Connemara.

Some 3,636 calls were made from Leinster House to a premium rate 1513 number, leaving the Oireachtas to foot the bill.

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