Former Labour Party TD Patrick Nulty has dramatically resigned his seat after sending inappropriate messages on Facebook, including one to a 17-year-old girl.
The 31-year-old Independent TD said he sent the messages to the girl "while under the influence of alcohol". He also said he thinks he has never met the teen.
Last night, Mr Nulty announced his resignation after The Sunday World made him aware they were publishing the story in today's newspaper.
In one message, he asked the schoolgirl, whom he has never met, "Have you ever been spanked?"
"I've made a mistake in [my] private life and I am taking personal responsibility for it," he said last night.
Mr Nulty's immediate resignation came ahead of the full revelations of his actions in the Sunday World today, which discovered further messages he sent to female constituents.
"I sent inappropriate messages via Facebook. This included inadvertently sending one to a 17-year-old woman. To the best of my knowledge, I have never met this woman and the message was sent while under the influence of alcohol," he said.
"I apologise wholeheartedly to the woman involved and to her family. It was never my intention to upset anyone in this way but it was totally wrong," he said in a statement.
It is understood the messages were sent to the schoolgirl shortly before and after 5am on December 29.
They allegedly began by asking her if she was "being good" and if she wanted to play "truth or dare".
When the girl replied truth, he is understood to have replied: "Have you ever been spanked?"
The schoolgirl wrote back: "What the f**k." She then received a reply saying the message was "only a joke".
It is understood Mr Nulty went on to say it was a "harmless game".
When the girl didn't write back to the TD, he continued contact by asking if she was going to give out to him. She asked him if he was drunk and he replied: "Yep."
It is understood the girl's mother became aware of the exchanges and subsequently confronted the TD.
Mr Nulty is alleged to have told her that his phone had been hacked, but later admitted his guilt before dramatically announcing his resignation late last night. Mr Nulty said he was seeking treatment for alcohol problems.
Female constituents in Dublin North West who came to the TD for help, are also reported to have received inappropriate messages from their then representative.
One woman was asked to send underwear in the post, and another was told to wear a skirt when visiting McNulty's constituency clinic.
While no official complaint has been made, gardai are now expected to launch a full investigation and to interview Mr Nulty.
"Gardai are now examining this case in light of Mr Nulty's resignation, and will then decide what course of action to pursue," said a senior garda source.
Mr Nulty was only a TD for two-and-a-half years after winning the Dublin West by-election following the death of former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.
After being elected as a Labour TD in October 2011, Mr Nulty resigned from the parliamentary party two months later in protest at the cutbacks in Budget 2012.
He later resigned from the party completely to become an Independent TD, but he remained close to fellow former Labour TDs Roisin Shortall and Tommy Broughan.
Mr Nulty will have to be replaced in a by-election to be held within six months.
The former TD said the message he sent was "entirely inappropriate" and he took full responsibility for his actions. "For this reason, I have decided to resign my seat in the Dail. I set myself the highest standards personally and politically. Unfortunately, due to personal mistakes I have not met those standards in this matter and I will take responsibility for that. I still believe passionately that Ireland can be a fairer and more just society based on equality and social justice, but at the present time, I believe to resign is the correct and right course of action," he said.
Mr Nulty said he would like to extend "my deepest thanks and gratitude to all my family, friends and supporters...
"In politics, people very often do not take responsibility for their actions. I hope I am doing that. I would further like to apologise to my constituents in Dublin West.
"I hope that as I have taken decisive and direct action on this matter, my privacy will now be respected in what has been a very difficult decision for me personally."
Mr Nulty remained extremely active at a local level following his departure from Labour.