Defiant Callely clings to committee positions
Published 23/09/2010 | 05:00
Senator Ivor Callely is demanding a meeting with a minister to discuss the Government's request that he resign from his positions on Leinster House committees.
Mr Callely is still in charge of the Oireachtas's human rights watchdog, as Fianna Fail is powerless to remove him from committees that it appointed him to.
The government chief whip has written to Mr Callely asking him to resign his committee positions, the Irish Independent has learned.
Mr Callely's bizarre response was to ask for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the matter further.
Mr Callely remains the chairman of the human rights committee, one of four active committee memberships he retains within Leinster House, despite a 20-day suspension from the Seanad and resigning from Fianna Fail.
He is currently taking a legal 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.
The senator took colleagues by surprise when he turned up to attend an Oireachtas Committee meeting this week, despite being suspended from the Seanad.
In his role as a senator, Mr Callely was appointed by Fianna Fail to the:
- Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.
- Sub-Committee on Job Creation through the Use of Renewable Resources.
- Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
- Sub-Committee on Human Rights, where he is chairman.
The Government can't force him to resign from committees because a Senator can only be removed for not turning up or by agreeing to go voluntarily.
The rules are different for TDs, who can be immediately removed or switched around by their parties.
Junior Minister John Curran, the government chief whip, wrote to him at the start of the month asking him to consider his position on the committees "following your recent resignation from Fianna Fail".
Mr Callely replied by saying he would like to discuss it further with the whip, but this request is being denied by the chief whip's office.
"There is no necessity for an appointment. We have made our position quite clear. There are no grey areas," a spokesman said.
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.