The Rewind

The Rewind Recommends: Michael Healy-Rae's Ding-Dong Battle With Jerry O'Sullivan On Radio Kerry

The Rewind Recommends: Michael Healy-Rae's Ding-Dong Battle With Jerry O'Sullivan On Radio Kerry

Last week, Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae faced questions about how he managed to both clock into the Dáil and attend a funeral in south Kerry on Thursday, June 21st, 2018.

Those questions came following an RTÉ investigation into how some TDs were clocking to Dáil Eireann for the purposes of claiming expenses on the travel and accommodation allowance scheme but not partaking voting. TDs are required to clock in on 120 days of the year to qualify for the allowance.

On Monday morning, Healy-Rae appeared on Radio Kerry, and over the course of an engrossing and unrelenting 30 minutes, faced questions from Kerry Today presenter Jerry O'Sullivan regarding the day in question.

It had been suggested that Healy-Rae was in Kerry on the evening prior to June 21st - he appeared on Virgin Media's Tonight Show via Skype. However, Healy-Rae explained that though he did make an appearance on the show using Skype, he had done so from Dublin.

Healy-Rae claimed that he clocked into the Dáil prior to 7am on June 21st and then left for the funeral in Sneem at 8am. He contended that this is a scenario he can prove.

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This is how part of the exchange between Healy-Rae and O'Sullivan played out. The full interview is well worth a listen.

JOS: How do you prove you were in Dáil Eireann on that day (June 21st, 2018)?

MHR: Absolutely no problem whatsoever. In the exact same way that I can prove I was there [in Dublin] on the Wednesday night. My phone records will prove I was there on Wednesday and Thursday. There will be every type of proof.

Even if you went down to the simplest of things. I pay my [motorway] toll, either by pulling up at the kiosk and you pay on the toll or I have the thing on the dash that clicks when you go through the toll. I have that proof that I came home on Thursday.

I really want to go at this now Jerry because, like I said at the beginning of this show on Radio Kerry, [with] the people I am elected to represent [listening], you said, 'How did you fob in when you weren't there?' I was there, so you are incorrect.

JOS: Can you explain how you were at a funeral in Sneem on the Thursday morning?

MHR: Absolutely no problem.

JOS: You have to be at Dáil Eireann at 7:30 in the morning to fob in?

MHR: No, you're wrong. Everything you are saying there is wrong. You are saying an incorrect thing there again. You said I was at funeral in Sneem. I wasn't at the funeral.

JOS: You told Radio Kerry on the following day that you were at a funeral and that was the reason you missed the address by Jean Claude Juncker. Can you clear that up?

MHR: Will you leave me finish the statement? We're going to get nowhere with this if you're going to keep interrupting.

JOS: It's my job to ask you questions, Michael, and not allow you to go into a stream of consciousness for four or five minutes and eat up the interview time. You'll understand that I am under pressure to ask the questions.

MHR: I didn't make the funeral. I wasn't at the church.

JOS: Why did you tell us you were at the funeral?

MHR: Because I was. I made it to the graveyard. If you'll just leave me finish. You're saying, 'How did I manage to leave Dublin and how was I in Sneem at the burial?' It was the burial I made.

I was late and it was my son-in-law's uncle [funeral]. I'm very sorry to the Dennehy and the O'Brien family that their funeral is being brought into this holy show.

I didn't make the mass. I was late for the mass. I made the graveyard. That would have been because by the time I got to leave Dublin... I was in my office, I did work, which is perfectly allowable. I did nothing wrong.

JOS: What time did you leave Dublin?

MHR: I don't write down what time I [leave Dublin].

JOS: In fairness, Michael, you've had three days to think about this. You refused to come on Radio Kerry on Friday. It's a simple basic question: What time did you leave Dublin on the morning in question?

MHR: In my estimation... I can't swear to this because I don't write down times.

JOS: You said that you have phone records. You said that you have records from the toll. What time did you leave Dublin?

MHR: Because of the time I landed in Sneem. I was trying to figure out backwards, how much time it would have taken me to get there. I know I missed the church and I missed all that. So, I would have imagined it would have been after eight o'clock [in the morning] or something like that. I do not know.

Another thing you said, you said that I went into the Dáil at half-past seven. Very seldom in my life did I go into the Dáil at 7:30am. Quite simply because that's too late. I'm able to get in there a lot earlier this that. Everyone knows I like being out in the morning and I like getting work done earlier in the day. The first couple of hours in the morning are the most important of the day.

The one thing I want to take apart here Jerry is you and other people who have repeated an untruth about me. And that's that I wasn't there on Wednesday night and I wasn't there on Thursday.

JOS: You're now making a claim about an untruth about me without providing me with the proof to show what you're saying is verified.

MHR: I did give it to you.

JOS: You aren't giving it to me. You've have since Friday morning. You've had ample time to contact me, email me or any of the other journalists who have been asking questions.

Instead you're coming on air this morning claiming that I'm telling an untruth and insinuating that I have an agenda against you.

All I'm doing is asking questions. If you wanted you correct it before now [you could have], instead of coming on the air and making these accusations against me personally and other journalists. I would ask you to provide the information first of all.

MHR: I repeated a thing here which said, 'We know for certain that MHR was in Kerry the night before he logged into the Dáil'. It doesn't suit you now that that's not true.

JOS: Forget about suiting me. I just want you to answer the question. It's a simple question: What time did you leave Dublin? And what time did you get to Kerry.

MHR: I answered that.

JOS: You didn't, you said maybe sometime around eight o'clock.

MHR: I'm figuring it out that I missed the funeral, I only made the graveyard. I would imagine it would have had to have been sometime after eight o'clock [in the morning] - which there is nothing wrong with.

JOS: What time did you arrive in Kerry? What time did you arrive at the graveyard?

MHR: When you burial was on.

JOS: What time of the day was it, Michael? Remember now, you've had three or four days to work all this out.

MHR: I spoke to my son-in-law about this. 11 o'clock was the mass. As you would know, in Sneem, people leave the church and go to the graveyard. That would have been approximately 12:30pm. The family would have been there up until 12:45pm, that sort of time. I made that part of the funeral.

Jerry, maybe, finally - and this is a question for you and the other journalists - what are you going to do about the wrong impression you gave about me on Friday?

JOS: Michael, again, it's yet to be established, the veracity of everything you're saying because we don't have records to prove it. I'll welcome your phone records and we'll go through all of that.

You can listen to the interview on the Radio Kerry website.

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PJ Browne
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