Monday 18 December 2017

Seanad may drop Callely case over fears of €400,000 legal bill

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

A SEANAD committee is considering abandoning its legal battle against the former Fianna Fail senator Ivor Callely due to the huge potential cost of losing.

Mr Callely successfully overturned in the High Court a disciplinary ruling against him by a Seanad committee over his travel expenses claims.

But a decision was then made to appeal the case to the Supreme Court -- which could leave the taxpayer with a legal bill of around €400,000 in the event of a defeat.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Seanad's Committee on Procedures and Privileges is now seriously considering dropping the Supreme Court appeal -- which would leave it with a legal bill of around €250,000.

Although members are wary of a public backlash for abandoning the appeal, they are reluctant to continue if it means an extra €150,000 in legal costs with no guarantee of winning.

One committee member said last night that the case "should be pulled". Another favours dropping the appeal but said the committee was "damned if we do and damned if we don't".

Three weeks ago, the head of the Oireachtas Commission, Kieran Coughlan, told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee that the legal cost of losing the appeal could be up to €500,000.

It is understood the current estimate provided to the Seanad's Committee on Procedures and Privileges is that the maximum would be €400,000.

Irish Independent

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