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Sunday 25 February 2018

Minister's delay in stepping down took the sting out of budget's 'political punch'

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

THE Government was furious at the timing of Ivor Callely's resignation as a junior minister over revelations that a major construction company paid for the painting of his home, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

Mr Callely was asked to quit by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on December 6, 2005 -- but refused to go for another two days.

American embassy officials were told by a government adviser the delay upset carefully laid plans to publicise that year's budget, which was delivered on December 7.

According to a 'confidential' cable, Alan Gray, an adviser to then Finance Minister Brian Cowen, said the Government was "fuming" at the timing of Mr Callely's exit.

He told then US Ambassador James Kenny the resignation "stepped on a carefully planned choreography to maximise the budget's political punch".

Mr Callely resigned following revelations that John Paul Construction provided subcontracted workers to refurbish and repaint part of his Dublin home in the 1990s. He did not pay for the work and the firm said it never received payment.

Mr Callely would later become mired in a series of expenses controversies as a senator and did not contest the recent Seanad elections.

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