Suspended Callely loses role as observer in US vote
Published 31/08/2010 | 05:00
EMBATTLED Senator Ivor Callely will not represent Ireland at the mid-term elections in the United States after the Government removed him from a prestigious international position.
The suspended senator was invited by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to act as an observer at the mid-term elections in the US -- while still suspended from the Seanad.
Mr Callely wrote to Oireachtas officials asking if he could represent Ireland at the November elections, as he was the head of the Irish delegation on the OSCE. The trip would have been paid for by the Oireachtas and ultimately the taxpayer.
But a spokesman for government chief whip John Curran last night insisted the Clontarf-based senator would not be travelling to the US as he had been removed from his coveted position on the OSCE.
"He's been removed from that position and won't be travelling," the spokesman said.
Discussions on his replacement are ongoing, but a new senator or TD will be appointed head of the Irish delegation in the coming weeks.
"All future OSCE engagements will be fulfilled by the new appointee to the Irish delegation or other members of the delegation," the spokesman said. "The Government has removed Mr Callely from the Irish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE."
The embattled senator was invited to attend the Bosnia Herzegovina elections in October and the US mid-term elections in November. Both events would have coincided with his suspension, which stretches into mid-November.
In July, at a time when questions were being raised about Mr Callely's expenses, he was permitted to attend a meeting in Oslo relating to his work at the OSCE. The event centred on a report which Mr Callely had a "significant involvement" in, the chief whip's spokesman said.
"This was a standalone engagement. This engagement predates the findings, and suspension, of the Seanad Members' Interests Committee as set out in their report of July 14," the spokesman said.
Fine Gael's whip in the Seanad Maurice Cummins last night claimed that senators and taxpayers would not have approved of Mr Callely going abroad. "If he's suspended without pay, that should extend to any duty in the political system," he added.
The OSCE is the world's largest regional security organisation and is responsible for monitoring and overseeing elections in overseas countries.
The organisation invites the head of delegation of each member State to participate in their work and Mr Callely is the most senior Irish representative, having been appointed by the government chief whip.
A spokesman for the Houses of the Oireachtas last night claimed no nominations were made to attend the US elections. Therefore, no travel arrangement have been made yet.
Earlier this summer, Mr Callely wrote to officials explaining the proposed trip and asking that he attend.
Earlier this month, Fianna Fail's own internal inquiry found Mr Callely's conduct was unbecoming and moved to expel him from the party -- but Mr Callely resigned before that move.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has indicated he feels Mr Callely needs to consider his position, but insists he cannot force him to resign.
While Fianna Fail's internal inquiry will not grant Mr Callely more time to explain his expenses claims, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin says the former minister should be given a chance to give his side of the story to the Seanad investigation.
Mr Callely has until September 8 to provide an explanation to the Seanad committee following a complaint about his mobile phone expenses claims.