Monday 26 February 2018

Callely insists phone bill was in good faith

Fionnan Sheahan and Eimear Ni Bhraonain

EMBATTLED Senator Ivor Callely claims he did no wrong in claiming €3,000 of mobile phone expenses using receipts from a company that had gone out of business.

Mr Callely said he got the receipts in good faith and is trying to get witnesses to testify on his behalf to a Seanad committee investigating allegations against him.

In a letter to the committee, Mr Callely puts up a robust defence of his position as he says one of the companies he was dealing with was in business up to two years ago.

The senator provided the explanation on his mobile phone expenses to the Seanad committee on member interests just a day after launching an unprecedented legal battle to overturn the same committees finding on his expenses and to win damages.

He has provided his phone records from Vodafone and also has proof that he had car kits installed.

"He seems to have some plausible arguments that he was entitled to claim. He's arguing that he went looking for receipts and maybe he did it rather late but he got them in good faith," a source close to the committee said.

"He is apologising for any inconvenience but he says he did not do wrong and is entitled to what he claimed."

Mr Callely said he is looking for people that he dealt with and he repaid the money claimed to avoid any suspicion.

The senator says he dealt with a wide range of companies, which were all linked to a telephone shop on Dublin's northside.

Mr Callely is currently pursuing an unprecedented legal battle to overturn an Oireachtas investigation into his expenses and to win damages.

The High Court will decide in early October whether it can adjudicate on his challenge.

Despite his legal action, Mr Callely has provided an explanation on his mobile phone expenses to a Seanad committee investigating allegations he used receipts from a company that had gone out of business.

Mr Callely met the deadline to respond to the Seanad committee over allegations he used invoices from a company that ceased trading years earlier to claim expenses for almost €3,000 worth of mobile phones and car kits.

The Senator is co-operating with the committee and complied with his commitment to provide a reply. He was given a two-week extension on his time to provide an explanation.


But Transport Minister Noel Dempsey joined calls for the former Fianna Fail Senator to resign as he said his position was no longer tenable.

Mr Dempsey said as long as the expenses saga continues it was damaging politics.

"I don't think that his position is tenable. He's a public representative. I think it is an issue really that he has to address. As long as this continues, it is not going to do politics any good," he added.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness has called for a new independent expenses system for TDs and Senators.

He said that despite the recent reform of the Oireachtas expenses system, it was time for the running of the expenses regime to be "taken away" from the Department of Finance, politicians and civil servants.

He added: "The only way to deal with it is to look at how expenses and salaries are established and to bring in outside business people.

"Let them put in a transparent processes that are necessary."

Irish Independent

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