High Court can review committee ruling, argues Callely
THE High Court has the power to hear Ivor Callely's legal action against a Seanad committee, his lawyers insisted yesterday.
Yesterday, lawyers for the Seanad's Select Committee of Members' Interests claimed courts could not review the committee's finding against the senator.
The committee had made the finding last July that Mr Callely had misrepresented his normal place of residence in order to claim expenses.
However, counsel for the senator argued that the courts were not precluded by the constitution from reviewing a decision.
Counsel argued the courts had the jurisdiction to review a finding which the senator claimed was "fundamentally flawed" and "shambolic" and led to Mr Callely receiving a 20-day suspension from the house and his good reputation being destroyed.
In its statement of opposition, the committee argued the court lacked the jurisdiction to interfere with a decision of an Oireachtas committee.
It claimed that, by virtue of separation of powers and Article 15.10 of the constitution, the Seanad and its committees were masters of their own deliberations.
The committee's counsel told the court that, under the constitution, the Oireachtas had the power to make its own rules for members. Any issue of unfair procedures, or damage to reputation or breach of rights were matters for the Seanad and not for the courts. It was as simple as that, counsel added.
Counsel also said that under the Ethics in Public Office Act the committee was permitted to make a political and ethical judgment against a member of the Oireachtas and it was under this act that the determination against Ivor Callely was made.
Mr Callely, a North Dublin Fianna Fail TD from 1989 to 2007, is seeking orders aimed at quashing the committee's finding that he had intentional misrepresented his normal place of residence as Kilcrohane, Bantry, Co Cork in order to claim allowances.
The case continues.