Suspended Callely gets McAleese invitation
Published 27/09/2010 | 05:00
SENATOR Ivor Callely has a chance to start his suspension from the Seanad in style -- with a visit to President Mary McAleese.
All senators are invited to a reception in Aras an Uachtarain tomorrow night, with Mr Callely's 20-day suspension due to kick in a day later.
The Irish Independent understands an invitation was sent to Mr Callely despite the controversy surrounding his expenses claims and legal challenges.
But it would be embarrassing for the President and awkward for fellow senators if he was to attend.
The senator is suing the seven senators of the Seanad committee on members' interests for suspending him over the deliberate misrepresentation of his normal place of residence as being in west Cork, rather than in Dublin.
A date is expected to be set today at the High Court for a full hearing into Mr Callely's right to take the case.
The Seanad returns from its summer break on Wednesday when Mr Callely's 20-day suspension from sittings will begin.
The former Fianna Fail senator's colleagues are divided over whether he will show up at the Aras.
Mr Callely was unavailable for comment on whether he and his wife Jennifer would attend.
A spokesman for the President said the Aras did not comment on individuals.
Fianna Fail senator Donie Cassidy, the leader of the Seanad, declined to comment yesterday on the possibility of Mr Callely being at the reception.
"All the Senate has been invited to the Aras. Two-thirds of the members have never met with the President in Aras an Uachtarain. We are looking forward to enjoying the company of the President," he said.
But a Fianna Fail senator said he expected Mr Callely to show up, especially after he attended an Oireachtas committee last week.
"He certainly will be there. The invite was sent out about a week ago. There's no question of differentiating between A, B, C. It will be rather interesting. I'd have no doubt he will turn up," the senator said.
However, another Fianna Fail colleague said Mr Callely would be well aware of the potential for embarrassment and would stay away.
"I don't expect him to attend or to cause any embarrassment to the President. I'd put 100-1 on that he won't," this senator said.
Mr Callely is also expected to attend the Oireachtas enterprise committee tomorrow, despite being asked to resign from it by the Government.
Mr Callely is demanding a meeting with a minister to discuss the Government's request that he resign his positions on all Leinster House committees.
Meanwhile, he remains in charge of the Oireachtas' human rights watchdog, as Fianna Fail is powerless to remove him.