Supreme Court rules against Callely in row over expenses
THE highest court in the land has ruled against veteran politician Ivor Callely and ended a four-year-old dispute over €80,000 in travel expenses.
A Seanad committee yesterday won its appeal against a High Court ruling in January 2011 which had gone in favour of the former Fianna Fail senator, TD and Junior Minister.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Seanad committee on members' interests was entitled to conclude Mr Callely had misrepresented his normal place of residence as Kilcrohane House, Bantry, Cork, rather than Clontarf in Dublin, when claiming expenses.
The appeal challenged the earlier High Court finding that there had been a breach of fair procedures in July 2010. At that stage the Seanad committee had decided that Callely deliberately misrepresented his place of residence when claiming mileage in 2008 amounting to some €80,000.
The seven-judge Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, allowed the Committee's appeal yesterday. A Seanad official welcomed the verdict and said the committee would take legal advice on future implications of the detailed judgment on a difficult issue.
In its original finding the Seanad committee had suspended Mr Callely for 20 days. The High Court set this suspension aside and said he must be paid €17,000 for loss of income.
It is understood that this money was paid pending the Supreme Court appeal by the Seanad authorities. But whether it is now up to Mr Callely to repay this remains unclear.
In another case, Mr Callely pleaded guilty last month to fraudulently using false invoices to claim for phone equipment in 2002. He is due for sentence in this case on July 22 next.
Mr Callely said after yesterday's verdict that, while he was disappointed with the decision, he accepted it.
In his action, he had strongly rejected the charge of misrepresentation and said he had complied with Department of Finance definition of place of residence.
In the Supreme Court's majority judgment overturning the High Court decision, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell and Mr Justice Frank Clarke ruled the committee was correct.
Mr Callely, who will be 55 next month, was involved in politics since he was first elected to Dublin City Council in 1985 and he was the youngest ever chairman of the old Eastern Health Board.
Elected to the Dail for Dublin North Central in 1989 he made no secret of his ambition to hold government office, though it took him until 2002 to be appointed a junior minister.
But in 2005 he was forced to resign from the government team after reports that a painter who worked on Eastern Health Board contracts had painted his home.