Thursday 23 February 2017

Callely provides written account of phone expenses

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

BELEAGUERED Senator Ivor Callely yesterday provided an explanation of his mobile phone expenses to a Seanad committee investigating allegations that he used receipts from a company that had gone out of business.

Lawyers and officials in the Oireachtas also met to discuss the status of the inquiries into Mr Callely.

The senator's written response came a day after he began an unprecedented legal battle to overturn an Oireachtas investigation into his expenses and to 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 decide in early October whether it can adjudicate on his challenge.

Yesterday was the deadline for the senator to respond to the Seanad committee over allegations he used invoices from a company that ceased trading years earlier to claim expenses for almost €3,000 worth of mobile phones and car kits.

Despite his parallel legal challenge, Mr Callely is co-operating with the committee and complied with his commitment to provide a reply. He was given a two-week extension on his time to provide an explanation.

Challenge

The Seanad Committee on Members' Interests is expected to meet next week to discuss Mr Callely's response and his court challenge to the previous investigation of his €80,000 expense claims from his house in west Cork, rather than his house in Clontarf in Dublin.

The senators will have to decide whether to continue with two other investigations while Mr Callely is taking a judicial review against his 20-day suspension for misrepresenting his normal place of residence.

There are still doubts over the future of the committee's ongoing work.

"Whether it would be wise to do it now has to be sorted. His judicial review is to do with the right of the committee to suspend him. Then there's the mobile phone claims. They are not even related," a source close to the committee said.

Meanwhile, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who appointed the senator in 2007, said the investigations into Mr Callely's affairs were damaging to politics. "It does nobody any good when any of the stuff comes out. It's pathetic for politics and everybody knows that," he said.

Discussing the controversy on RTE Radio 1's 'The John Murray Show', Mr Ahern did not say Mr Callely should resign or that he regretted appointing him.

He explained how that appointment came about.

"He had just lost his seat, and had been a very hardworking TD for Dublin North-Central. He got a very good vote in the 2007 general election, but didn't get his transfers."

Irish Independent

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