€3,295 Kenya calls 'work-related' says TD Michelle Mulherin
FINE Gael TD Michelle Mulherin has maintained that all 130 phone calls she made from her Leinster House phone to Kenya were work-related after it emerged she has made a second payment to the Oireachtas.
The Mayo TD has paid a further €1,295 to the Leinster House authorities on top of the €2,000 she paid back last month.
The combined bill of €3,295 relates to 130 phone calls she made from her Leinster House phone to an individual in Kenya who previously worked on her election campaign.
Ms Mulherin admitted she was the TD responsible for making the calls after a Sunday newspaper reported that she was present in Leinster House on days during which the calls were logged.
She initially paid back €2,000 and sought a full investigation into her phone activity from Oireachtas officials.
Ms Mulherin told the Herald last night that she made a further payment of €1,295 last week after being in contact with the Oireachtas and Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.
But the first-time deputy insisted the calls were made for work purposes and said she received assurances from the Ceann Comhairle that she is entitled to make phone calls without being charged.
"I have now received word from the Ceann Comhairle as Chair of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission which is responsible for the day-to-day running of Leinster House," she said.
"It is very clear that in accordance with the 1962 Oireachtas Act there is provision for me as there is for all members to make phone calls from Leinster House without charge.
"Therefore, no issue nor problem arises out of my use of the phone.
"Even though the calls were work-related, I decided last week, as soon as the authorities clarified the cost, to pay for the calls in full.
"This was to avoid any perception that I benefited personally and to put an end to the distraction and disruption to my work as a TD."