Tuesday 25 April 2017

Senator won't say who advised him to claim illegal travel perks

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

SENATOR Ronan Mullen is determined not to reveal the name of the politician who advised him to claim illegal travel expenses.

His decision comes as the People before Profit Alliance have defended themselves against accusations that their complaint against Mr Mullen was vexatious and a waste of the Seanad members' interests committee's time.

Mr Mullen said he hoped the committee would accept his decision not to reveal the name of the politician who casually told him that he could earn the price of a house over time if he claimed travel expenses from his family home in Ahascragh, Co Galway, rather than from his actual residence in Dublin.

"I'd be hopeful there would be no conflict between giving the committee the respect it's due and being true to one's values and beliefs around not taking from other people's reputations unnecessarily," he said.

Complaint

The committee is also investigating a complaint that Senator Ivor Callely used invoices from a closed down company to claim almost €2,900 in mobile phone expenses.

A notice on the door of Mr Callely's locked constituency office in Killester in his former Dublin North Central constituency yesterday made it clear he was still offering a service to constituents.

"The constituency office of Ivor Callely is closed for holidays until September 1, 2010. Please note Ivor's Leinster House office remains open," it said.

Mr Mullen said the comment from the unnamed politician was made in confidence which he felt he could not break.

"It was a casual comment made to me in a casual setting and I don't know what the motivations were," he said.

Mr Mullen has written to the committee seeking urgent clarification that the complaint against him does not involve any allegation of impropriety on his part in claiming expenses.

He said he wanted the matter dealt with speedily and separately so that he was not associated with the three senators under investigation for expenses-related issues.

As well as Mr Callely, the committee is also investigating Senators Larry Butler and Ann Ormonde after complaints that they allegedly claimed travel allowances for addresses not listed as their official residences

All four senators have been given two weeks to provide a full statement in response to the complaints and the committee will consider them at its meeting on August 23.

The complaint against Mr Mullen was made by the People Before Profit Alliance, which wants him to name the politician who made the comment about travel expenses to him.

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that the independent chair of the Fianna Fail internal inquiry into the allegations against Mr Callely will be senior counsel Colm O hOisin.

He represented former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the Mahon Tribunal and at one stage told the key tribunal witness, retired builder Tom Gilmartin, that some of his statements about Mr Ahern were "wholly fantastical and unbelievable".

The other five members of the Fianna Fail sub-committee are members of the national executive and they are due to complete their investigation next month.

Their names have not been released by the party.

Irish Independent

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