Hanafin: Callely expenses row 'embarrassment' to party
The controversy surrounding Ivor Callely's expenses is an embarrassment to Fianna Fail, a senior Government minister accepted today.
Heaping further pressure on the embattled Senator, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said politics as a profession was being discredited by the revelations.
She said the former junior minister must deal with the issues facing him.
A parliamentary watchdog, due to reconvene at the end of the month to deal with allegations that Senator Callely used forged documents for expenses claims, has brought forward its hearing to Monday.
Ms Hanafin said she hoped the controversial Senator would provide answers at the Seanad Members' Interest Committee hearing.
"It is an embarrassment and it also discredits the whole of the political profession," Ms Hanafin said.
"I really think it's important that any issues that are outstanding for Ivor Callely that he would deal with them immediately."
Fianna Fail suspended Senator Callely, without prejudice, earlier this week as it launched its own investigation into the allegations that he claimed around €3,000 for mobile phones from a company that had gone out of business.
The Tourism minister said the expenses regime had been tightened in the last year.
"This type of thing cannot happen again. It is much more accountable now," she said.
"We're also bound by the standards in public office commission regarding all declarations. There are legal requirements there.
"They have to be upheld and I hope that Senator Ivor Callely ensures that he's able to provide the answers to the stories that we're reading."
Complaints from the public surrounding the allowances of two further Fianna Fail Senators will also be considered by the Seanad Members' Interest Committee on Monday.
Senator Ann Ormonde reportedly claimed expenses from her holiday home in Waterford for a time in 2004 despite her main residence being in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
Senator Larry Butler resigned the Fianna Fail party whip in June after it emerged he allegedly claimed expenses from a home in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, even though his home was in Foxrock, south Co Dublin.
Senator Callely is already facing a garda investigation after Commissioner Fachtna Murphy wrote to Seanad clerk Deirdre Lane requesting clarification on certain matters.