Callely back as senators consider calling in DPP
Senator Ivor Callely breezed back into work yesterday as it emerged the investigation into his phone expenses could now be passed to the DPP.
Mr Callely took colleagues by surprise when he turned up to attend an Oireachtas committee, despite being suspended from the Seanad.
While a Seanad committee was debating the investigation into his mobile phone claims in Leinster House, Mr Callely attended the enterprise committee next door.
Mr Callely's attendance at the committee is the latest in a string of defiant moves by the senator to test the limits of his suspension.
The inquiry into the allegations appears to be running into the ground, following Mr Callely's court challenge against his suspension for deliberately misrepresenting his normal place of residence as being his holiday home in west Cork, rather than his home in Dublin.
Although he can't sit in the Seanad for 20 days, he can still participate in Oireachtas committee meetings -- though he won't receive expenses for attending.
In the latest developments yesterday:
- In the course of a four-hour meeting the committee discussed whether to pass on the mobile phone investigation to the DPP or the Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPOC), rather than proceeding to a formal inquiry itself with public hearings.
- The work of the Seanad inquiry faces further delays after its chief legal adviser, barrister Gerald Hogan, was promoted to the High Court yesterday.
- Mr Callely met the deadline yesterday to respond to a complaint that he did not officially declare his ownership of a number of properties.
The senator claims he did no wrong in claiming €3,000 of mobile phone expenses using receipts from a company that had gone out of business.
A date for his judicial review against the Seanad Committee on Members' Interests is expected to be set next Monday, when the High Court sits.
The Seanad committee is now debating whether it has the power, time and resources to investigate his actions, given the senator's ongoing court case.
Mr Callely yesterday submitted a reply of several hundred pages to the committee.
A source said: "The options are the committee can investigate itself, refer it to DPP, pass it to the SIPOC and the fourth option is to throw it out.
"According to the Act, during or in the course of the investigation or on completion, the committee can refer it to the DPP. Similarly the committee can pass it on to the SIPOC."
The Seanad committee will seek further legal advice on its course of action. "The committee will have to look for another senior counsel, which might throw it back a couple of months. It'll just have to replace him," a source said.
A spokesman for the Oireachtas said the Seanad Committee on Members' Interests "will meet again next Tuesday to continue its deliberations".
The committee met in Leinster House at 12.30pm yesterday. At the same time, Mr Callely attended the Joint Committee on Enterprise meeting next door.
Before the meeting started, a member of the committee casually commented about Mr Callely's attendance but an Oireachtas official clarified that he was entitled to attend.
"Someone questioned it outside. I was amazed he turned up to it. But we needed five TDs and one senator for the committee meeting to go ahead," a TD said.
Three weeks ago, Mr Callely began an extraordinary legal battle to overturn an Oireachtas investigation into his expenses and win damages.
Instead of accepting a 20-day ban over his travel claims, Mr Callely took the increasingly bitter fight to the High Court, which will now decide in early October whether it can adjudicate on his challenge.