(This is a story featured in the Mail On Sunday, by Ken Foxe)
A politician ran up a €95 bill on one single phone call but Oireachtas authorities have no way of tracking down who made it.
The same person is understood to have run up more than €344 in costs on five separate phone calls to Colombia, records from the Oireachtas show and details of which were published in the Irish Mail on Sunday.
The single most expensive call, made in May of this year, to an unidentified number in South America ended up lasting one hour and three minutes. It was made during peak time and charged at a rate of €1.50 per minute with the final bill coming in at precisely €94.79.
The hundred most expensive calls from the Oireachtas have cost the taxpayer in excess of €3,400 since the beginning of 2011.
However, there is no way of checking on the vast majority of these calls and whether they relate to legitimate business or were simply keeping in touch with family members or friends abroad.Phone calls made by TDs and Senators, under law, are not logged for ‘reasons of privacy and confidentiality’ meaning their legitimacy can never be checked.
The costly calls form part of more than €280,000 that will have been spent providing free telephony to politicians and staff during the past two years.
Two of the ten most expensive calls listed on Oireachtas records were made to Colombia with the second costing €86.06. Seven of the most expensive calls were made to Kenya, mostly at peak time, and cost between €61.44 and €79.51, while a further call to Mozambique cost €76.01.
Enormous bills were also run up on calls that seem inexplicably long with a 17 hour phone call listed on January 20. That call, made to an Irish phone number at peak time, ended up costing the taxpayer €36.72 and was attributed to ‘faults in [a] broadcasting line’. Two other marathon phone calls are also listed in the Top 100 with a 14 half hour call costing €31.28 and a 13 hour one costing just under €30.
Here is the data in full: (Download here)