Fionnan Sheahan: Cowen in flap over Callely's failure to quit -- FG
Published 28/08/2010 | 05:00
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen was accused yesterday of epitomising Fianna Fail's inconsistency on embattled Senator Ivor Callely's failure to resign.
Some figures in the party are saying their former colleague needs to resign right away, while others say he should be given until the Seanad committee finishes its inquiries.
Fianna Fail's own internal inquiry found his conduct was unbecoming and moved to expel him from the party -- but Mr Callely resigned before that move. Mr Cowen has indicated he feels Mr Callely needs to consider his position, but insists he cannot force him to resign.
But Fine Gael says the inconsistency in Fianna Fail's position is typical of Mr Cowen's handling of the debacle.
While Fianna Fail's internal inquiry wouldn't grant Mr Callely more time to explain his expenses claims, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin says the former minister should be given the opportunity to give his side of the story to the Seanad investigation.
Fine Gael Seanad justice spokesman Eugene Regan said it was time for Mr Cowen and Fianna Fail to clearly express their position and demand Mr Callely's resignation.
"The Fianna Fail committee wasn't prepared to give him more time. They felt they had enough information to expel him. There is an inconsistency here; having come to a point of expelling from the party, Fianna Fail need to demand he resign from the Seanad," he said. Although Mr Callely is no longer a member of Fianna Fail, Mr Regan said the party cannot shirk its responsibility on the controversy.
"It is a Fianna Fail problem and Fianna Fail should be able to sort it out. Brian Cowen should show some leadership. He has shied away from expressly calling on Senator Callely to resign," he said.
Mr Callely has until September 8 to provide an explanation to the Seanad committee on members' interests, following a complaint about his mobile phone expenses claims.
The current ongoing investigation followed revelations that Mr Callely submitted an expenses claim to the Oireachtas Commission for almost €2,900 for four different mobile phones and car kits in November 2007.
The Seanad committee previously investigated Mr Callely's travel expenses claims from his holiday home in west Cork and suspended him for 20 days.
It found he deliberately misrepresented his normal place of residence for the purpose of claiming expenses.
Mr Callely has until September 21 to respond to a complaint about his property interests. His register of interests for 2007, 2008 and 2009 include just two properties, both in Dublin. However, the Irish Independent revealed that documents filed with the Registry of Deeds show that he was the joint owner of at least seven other properties in recent years.