Callely resigns from Fianna Fail before he is kicked out
Embattled Senator Ivor Callely last night resigned from Fianna Fail -- just before the party was about to expel him for "conduct unbecoming" of a member.
The former minister met yesterday with the internal party committee investigating his expenses claims, accompanied by his solicitor and barrister.
Fianna Fail's internal inquiry refused his request for an adjournment of the proceedings of the committee -- just a day after a Seanad committee gave him a further two weeks to present his case.
The refusal prompted Mr Callely to resign from the party.
In a statement last night, Mr Callely said he had been denied "fair procedures" to refute allegations made against him.
He said he was "devastated" at the procedures which resulted in his "inevitable" resignation and would now concentrate on clearing his name before the Seanad Select Committee.
Fianna Fail said that after a short adjournment, the committee was informed that Mr Callely had resigned from the party and that he intended to take no further part in the proceedings of the committee.
"The committee proceeded in the absence of Mr Callely to conclude its investigation and made a finding of conduct unbecoming a member of Fianna Fail," the party said in a statement last night.
Fianna Fail's internal inquiry members met in a city centre hotel and the meeting went on for up to five hours.
Meanwhile, Mr Callely has threatened legal action over his suspension from the Seanad, in a move which raises the prospect of lengthy delays to all the probes into his activities.
But Mr Callely's solicitors have written to the Seanad committee conducting a further two investigations into the senator, saying he is "considering his options" after their ruling he misrepresented his normal residence for expenses claims.
The letter is being considered by sources close to the Seanad committee on members' interests as Mr Callely weighs up taking a judicial review against their report.
The committee's ongoing work will be stalled if he follows through with a court challenge.
The former minister rejected the Seanad committee on members' interests finding that he misrepresented his place of residence as being his holiday home in west Cork, rather than his home in Dublin, for the purpose of claiming expenses.
Resulting from the committee's findings, he was suspended from the Seanad for 20 days.
But Mr Callely stated in the letter that he wants the ruling "reviewed fairly in a non-partisan way". He has six months to take a judicial review against the committee.
But legal action could bog down the inquiries for months, a source close to the committee told the Irish Independent.
Whether Mr Callely was successful in contesting the first finding or not, the committee would be legally obliged to wait for the outcome of the case -- or risk facing further challenges.
Mr Callely has until September 8 to respond to a complaint following revelations he submitted an expenses claim to the Oireachtas Commission for almost €2,900 for four different mobile phones and car kits in November 2007 using invoices from a defunct company.
And he has until September 21 to respond to a complaint over his failure to declare his interest in at least seven properties -- as revealed in this paper.