Michael Healy-Rae is learning his first lesson as a TD, when a Government Minister asks you to do something in the national media you'd better say Yes Minister or be ready to go to the mattresses.
Joan Burton twice wrote to Michael asking him to step down from the Citizens Information Board now that he is a TD. Michael said no. Joan made a bit of an issue about it in the media and Michael responded by accusing her of cronyism and asking who she would replace him with on the board. In your face Minister, dont tred on Michael...
Then suddenly out of the 2007 comes the relevation that 3636 phone calls were made to a premium rate phone number from a phone in the Dail voting for Michael to win a reality TV show. This cost the taxpayer €2,639. Michael's response was he couldnt have done it since he was on TV and sure the money went to charity anyway. Leaving aside the obvious stupidity of an excuse that depends on the inability of everyone who was on Michael's fathers then Dail staff being able to use a phone, claiming it's ok anyway because the money went to charity is like saying it's ok to rob banks so long as it goes to a good cause. Now he's had to come out and pay back the money while insisting he still did nothing wrong in the hope that the story will go away. Meanwhile Joan is off on TV/radio announcing a national intern job scheme and just casually mentioning that Michael should resign from the board.
Whats next for Michael? Some rumours of voting irregularities in his constituency came up again yesterday. Elderly people in Kerry South reporting that people showed up on their door step asking to collect their postal ballot or help fill them out. Stuff like that happens all over the place during elections (or did when I was a kid) but suddenly it's news coming out of the same constituency as Healy-Rae?
Coincidence? Maybe but it's getting a message across as well. Dont mess with a Government Minister or it may just be your bad luck to find yourself in front of cameras explaining something from some years ago.