Updated: 23/02/12 : 06:50:07
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Hotline from Sligo to Vatican costs dearly....literally

TONY McLOUGHLIN, the Sligo TD spearheading the campaign within his own party to have Irish Embassy reinstated in the Vatican City, is one of the highest spenders on a new phone among his Oireachtas colleagues.

Il Papa could hand him every contact ever met on his summer holiday home in Castel Gandolfo and they will all fit comfortably in the Strandhill TD's new super phone.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) to the Irish Independent shows that Deputy McLoughlin spent 589 euro on an iPhone 4, the 16 gigabytes model.

That was the same figure, for same model, as spent by Senator Ronan Mullen and Joe Costello, the Sligo-born Director of Elections for Michael D Higgins' successful Presidential campaign and for which he was later appointed to a junior Ministry. Ironically, the new phone scheme is not open to junior ministers.

Bargain Spotter

There is good news, and on the double, for Deputy McLoughlin, (i) he is entitled to order a new phone in 18 months time and (ii) he is already entitled to order an Apple iPad2, a powerful tablet mini computer of which there are twelve different combinations (six specifications in two colours) ranging in price from 486 euro to 812 euro. No receipt has to be provided for the public record for the iPad2.

He's not the only big spender in Sligo either. Senator Susan O'Keeffe from Collooney bought a 32 gigabyte model. However, she proved herself a serious bargain-spotter by paying only 459 for the model she purchased through O2.

Her Senate colleague, Averil Power of Fianna Fail, paid 699 -- that is 240 more than Susan O'Keeffe -- for a similar iPhone, which she purchased directly from Apple. This made Senator Power the biggest spender among Senators and backbench TDs, FoI records suggested.

TDs and Senators have their mobile phone bills paid by the State. They may also purchase car kits and other accessories.

The final irony is that Deputy McLoughlin was often hard for some groups to contact by mobile phone when he was a local councillor.