Monday 16 December 2019

Ivor Callely appeals refusal of temporary release

Ivor Callely
Ivor Callely

Tim Healy

Jailed former politician Ivor Callely wants the High Court to overturn Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's refusal to grant him temporary release or enhanced remission.

Callely was jailed last July after it was found that he fraudulently claimed €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of five months in prison by Judge Mary Ellen Ring.

He started serving the sentence in Mountjoy Prison, before being transferred to Wheatfield Prison in Clondalkin, Dublin.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Faherty granted lawyers for Callely (56) leave to have the minister's refusal judicially reviewed. Permission to bring the case was granted on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis.

The court heard Callely is a model prisoner and had applied for, but was refused, temporary release by the minister.

Refusing the application on October 28 last, the minister said she was "of the view that the breach of trust and abuse of public funds by a member of the Oireachtas must be considered in the most serious terms".

She added: "Mr Callely is not considered suitable for temporary release at this stage of his sentence."

He claims the minister's decision is unfair and he is not being treated the same as other prisoners, who have committed more serious crimes.

The decision flies in the face of reason or common sense and is unfair in the circumstances, it is also argued. The minister, he claims, has been unfairly influenced by his high profile, and the prospect of the adverse public reaction of the early release of a former politician.

In an affidavit, Mr Callely said he has been told by prison staff that he should not be in jail and is only being kept there because of his high profile.

He also said the minister had turned down his request despite the fact that she granted temporary release to a former Fine Gael councillor, a member of the same political party as Ms Fitzgerald.

Barrister Kieran Kelly said Ivor Callely met all the criteria entitling him to temporary release. He added that if his client, who on arrival at prison was placed in 23-hour lock-up for his own protection, is granted a one-third remission, as compared to the normal one quarter, he would be entitled to immediate release from prison .

The action is against the minister and the Governor of Wheatfield Prison.

The case comes back before the court next week.

Irish Independent

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