Thursday 8 December 2016

Penchant for pinstripe made him stand out

Published 26/01/2012 | 05:00

HIS penchant for wide pinstripe suits and loud ties made him stand out from the crowd of FF TDs.

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His habit of blatant self-promotion also ensured everybody in Leinster House knew his name.

The 53-year-old rose to the ranks of junior ministry but later fell to the ignominy of a controversial departure from political life.

From the northside of Dublin, the former pharmaceutical sales rep made his breakthrough in 1987 when he was elected to Dublin Corporation. He was a TD for Dublin North-Central within four years.

Although he shared a constituency with the Haugheys, relations were poor between him and the dynasty.

He served as chairman of the Eastern Health Board and did his time on the Fianna Fail backbenches until being appointed as Junior Health Minister in 2002 and Junior Transport Minister two years later.

But his career was dogged by a series of controversies.

His wife, Jennifer, won the franchise to run the hairdressing salon in the new Beaumont Hospital when he was chairman of the health board.

He criticised asylum seekers in the late 1990s; while as a junior minister, a string of six staff transferred or quit.

He offered a staff member a car to stay on. He also sparked controversy when a building firm arranged for his home to be painted for free.

He resigned as junior minister and subsequently lost his Dail seat in 2007, yet was appointed to the Seanad by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

He was investigated by a Seanad committee when it emerged he was claiming expenses from his West Cork house, rather than his political base in Dublin. He successfully challenged the decision of the committee to suspend him from the Seanad for 20 sitting days and dock his pay.

But the investigation by gardai into mobile phone receipts issued by Mr Callely took a dramatic turn yesterday when he was arrested.

The receipts relate to him claiming expenses as a senator, but the potential fallout will linger long beyond his life in public office.

Irish Independent

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