As a member of the Procedures and Privileges Committee, set up to examine and implement best practice in the way the Dáil conducts itself, I now want the Committee to investigate the phone call issue when it meets for the first time in the new Dáil term early next week.
There was a clear mandate at the last election for a change in the way politics is conducted in this country. I believe huge strides have been made in the area of salary reductions, vouched expenses and the pooling of state cars.
This recent controversy, concerning the making of 3636 phone calls from an Oireachtas phone line in support of Independent TD Michael Healy Rae’s participation in an RTE television show, must be fully investigated.
I will be using my position on the newly formed Procedures and Privileges Committee to get some more answers on this issue. The public want to know who made the calls, by what means, and why this issue was not investigated when it was first reported to the relevant phone and Dáil authorities.
I also believe that former TD Jackie Healy Rae must assist the investigation in any way possible and help us get to the bottom of this issue. The Committee should also consider asking some of his former staff to attend and help with the investigation.
It is simply not acceptable that such a high volume of calls could be made to a premium number like this. We also need to find out why it took so long for this information to come to light. Controversies like serve to tarnish all politicians with the same brush.
We must be thorough in all areas of accountability in the political system when it comes to taxpayer’s money.
I welcome the fact that Michael Healy Rae TD has offered to pay this money back, but believe that there are outstanding questions that need to be dealt with.
I look forward to working with the Ceann Comhairle and the other party whips when the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges meets early next week.