Monday 23 April 2018

Callely won't be muted as swan-song sparks uproar

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

SENATOR Ivor Callely yesterday caused the suspension of the Seanad after he sparked uproar when he attempted to "clear up" the issue of his controversial expenses claims.

In what is likely to be his last contribution as a senator or TD, Mr Callely asked if people "were afraid of the truth" and said he owed it to the "people of Ireland" to put his story on the record.

Mr Callely, whose political base is on Dublin's northside, was suspended from the Seanad for 20 days last year after claiming €80,000 in travel expenses from his home in west Cork. However, the former junior minister won a High Court appeal to the suspension and was reimbursed €17,000 in loss of earnings.

"I owe it to the people of Ireland, to my constituents and supporters to clear up issues surrounding the adverse publicity generated by certain sections of the gutter press," he said before the suspension.

"Are people afraid of what I'm going to say?" he asked after the upper house resumed. "Are people afraid of the truth? What is wrong with putting the truth on the record of this house?"

The Seanad was adjourned for 15 minutes until 12.10pm because of Mr Callely's attempts to speak about his personal circumstances during what was supposed to be an EU debate.

When it returned, senator Paddy Burke, who was in the chair, tried to call senator Joe O'Toole but Mr Callely interrupted and said he was "entitled to speak".

He asked if Mr O'Toole was "afraid of what I'm going to say about him". Mr Callely also mentioned a "political assassination" at work and said the proceedings were "a farce".

He eventually sat down "on the understanding" that what he said was on the records.

Mr Callely insisted he wasn't making a personal statement -- which wasn't allowed -- and said it would be "dishonest" of him not to admit he wanted to get re-elected to the Dail.

"I regret that I will be leaving this house with many people believing that I do so under a cloud," he added.

Irish Independent

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