Jennifer Callely says she is target of 'witch-hunt'
Wife of embattled senator expresses deep distress over tabloid scrutiny of vehicle for disabled relative
Jennifer Callely, the wife of embattled senator Ivor Callely, has expressed deep distress over what she believes is a witch-hunt against her -- which she claims has now extended to a disabled member of her family.
Ms Callely fears that the health of her elderly mother may be jeopardised following scrutiny by a British-owned tabloid newspaper over tax relief she obtained for a €70,000 Range Rover Sport HSE, which was converted to carry the disabled person.
In a statement to the Sunday Independent issued on her behalf, Ms Callely confirmed that she had received relief from tax under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994.
The tax break was designed to make it more affordable for people with disabled relatives to convert vehicles and install various modifications to make transportation easier.
Ms Callely told the Sunday Independent, through her solicitors, that the application was made four years ago and was approved by the Revenue Commissioners after a rigorous certification process that included the provision of medical reports and vehicle inspections.
The Sunday Independent has learned that the modifications included the provision of hoist and anchorage points and special seating.
But Ms Callely expressed her anger that a vulnerable and elderly family member should be brought into the long-running controversy over her husband's expenses.
"Jennifer's husband may be open to scrutiny on matters in the public arena, but she is not going to allow her personal, domestic, delicate and sensitive family-related issues be drawn into the current issues," the statement said.
"This is a genuine family situation. Jennifer does not wish to disclose any details that may jeopardise the vulnerability of a particular family member, particularly a family member suffering a disability.
"Jennifer and all the Callely family members are insured to drive this vehicle in order to assist the disabled family member with her transportation needs."
According to the statement, in June 2006, Jennifer Callely applied to, and was approved by, the Revenue Commissioners for tax relief on the purchase of a vehicle to accommodate the transport requirements of a mobility-impaired family member.
Among the requirements to obtain tax relief was that the vehicle must have been specially adapted for the purpose of carrying a disabled person and the cost of the adaptation must amount to at least 10 per cent of the pre-tax cost of the vehicle.
Another was that the vehicle must not be disposed of within two years of the date of purchase. The maximum tax relief that can be obtained under the scheme is €15,875.
"The vehicle Jennifer Callely purchased and registered in her sole name as a purpose-bought vehicle for the transportation needs of a family member was in compliance with all the regulations."
"The vehicle cost €72,635 plus additional modification costs in excess of €6,500, making a total cost of €79,135," the statement said, adding that this figure included €11,169.40 Vat plus Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) of €8,278, making a tax total of €19,447.40 plus the modification costs of the car.
The statement said that there were certain modifications carried out to the vehicle costing in excess of €6,500.
"All modifications [were] required to be fully documented and these were supplied to Revenue," the statement said.
The statement, prepared by O'Hanrahan and Company Solicitors, said it was their understanding that the Revenue Commissioners calculated the Vat, VRT and modification costs at €24,153 and granted the tax relief of €15,875 towards this outlay.
"Jennifer paid the balance of tax of €8,278 to Revenue. The claim required detailed certification, medical reports and inspection of the vehicle," it said.
"All such certification, medical reports and inspection were carried out and approved by the relevant authority."