Callely insists €87,000 mileage claims 'in line with ministers'
EMBATTLED senator Ivor Callely has insisted his €87,000 mileage expenses were in line with those claimed by his former ministerial colleagues.
Breaking his silence via a solicitor's letter, Mr Callely said his mileage claims were not unique and were "in line with that" of other junior ministers at the time.
The senator, who has ignored mounting calls to resign, claimed €87,000 in mileage expenses over two years while he was junior minister for health and living in Dublin.
His mobile phone expenses and register of interests are being examined by a Seanad panel but the mileage expenses are not under investigation.
The senator yesterday claimed his ministerial car was not provided by the department. Instead, he had purchased and maintained the car.
This is standard practice for junior ministers who employ a driver to chauffeur them around in their own car. In contrast, senior ministers are given ministerial cars which are driven by a garda.
"The mileage in question related to a ministerial car and this mileage amounted to a substantial number of miles unrelated to the personal mileage incurred by Senator Callely on his travelling to and from his office," the letter said.
Earlier this month, Fianna Fail's own internal inquiry found that Mr Callely's conduct was unbecoming and moved to expel him from the party but Mr Callely resigned before that move.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has indicated that he feels Mr Callely needs to consider his position, but insists he cannot force him to resign.
While Fianna Fail's internal inquiry wouldn't grant Mr Callely more time to explain his expenses claims, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said the former minister should be given the opportunity to give his side of the story to the Seanad investigation.
Mr Callely has until September 8 to provide an explanation to the Seanad Committee on Members' Interests, following a complaint about his mobile phone expense claims.
The current ongoing investigation followed revelations that Mr Callely submitted an expenses claim to the Oireachtas Commission for almost €2,900 for four different mobile phones and car kits in November 2007. The Seanad committee previously investigated Mr Callely's travel expense claims from his holiday home in west Cork and suspended him for 20 days.
It found he deliberately misrepresented his normal place of residence for the purpose of claiming expenses.
Mr Callely has until September 21 to respond to a complaint about his property interests. His register of interests for 2007, 2008 and 2009 includes just two properties, both in Dublin.
However, the Irish Independent revealed that documents filed with the Registry of Deeds showed that he was the joint owner of at least seven other properties in recent years.
Mr Callely could not be contacted for comment last night.