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Saturday 16 December 2017

Senator calls for probe into his expenses claims

Senator Ivor Callely today asked for an Oireachtas committee to investigate his controversial expenses claims.

The Fianna Fail representative told the Seanad he believed he should be given the chance to explain why he claimed overnight and travel expenses from his west Cork property for two years.

The claims were made despite the Senator stating on his website that he lived in Clontarf, north Dublin and also being politically active in the area.

Senator Callely asked for the Select Committee on Members' Interests to take up the case after Taoiseach Brian Cowen called on his party colleague to explain himself.

"I am conscious of the comments of my colleagues and the media presentation of my expenses and I very much regret any distraction brought to this House and to members," the Senator said.

"I am equally conscious of my family, wider circle of friends and loyal supporters."

Senator Callely said he recognised the difficulties the matter had raised and he was prepared to co-operate satisfactorily to address them.

"I know most will appreciate this issue is difficult to address by way of a simple statement here today," he said.

"The expense regime is complex and there are anomalies in the system.

"I, like others, am deeply upset and concerned at the presentation of my expenses and the negative complexion this has put on me and this House and the profession of politics."

Mr Callely, a former TD for Dublin North Central, was nominated to the Seanad in 2007.

He began claiming travel and overnight expenses from his house in Kilcrohane, west Cork, a holiday home. In all he cost the taxpayer €81,000 until late last year when he stopped claiming for staying in the detached picturesque home.

The Oireachtas yesterday published expenses details for all TDs and Senators which showed Mr Callely claimed nothing in March and April, the first two months available to the public under the new open system.

In March, he gave back a cheque for €3,987 and said he wished his expenses and allowances to reflect his actual spending.

He told the Seanad: "I'm most respectfully requesting that I be afforded the opportunity to go before the select committee on members interest and submit myself to their investigation into this matter and their assessment of any wrongdoing if any."

He said there was a full file of documents clearly showing his position from the time of his appointment.

The Senator said reports so far on his financial claims did not give the full picture.

He said he looked forward to a speedy and satisfactory resolution of the controversy.

"I've always indicated that I have a west Cork residence, a Clontarf home and a constituency office in Dublin north central and I travel from all three depending on circumstances to fulfil my Seanad duties," he said.

"I understand that I complied with regulations.

"There are anomalies in the expenses regime, which were a consideration, and I have raised such matters with the Oireachtas."

No stranger to controversy, Mr Callely lost his post as a junior transport minister in 2005 following scandal over work done on his house.

John Paul Construction had paid for the painting of the Senator's home in Clontarf in the early 1990s. The construction company paid sub-contractor Philip Lambert directly and the connections brought an end to Mr Callely's junior ministerial career.

The Senator was also embroiled in a garda investigation after his yacht was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run in Baltimore harbour, off Cork.

His boat Serendipity II reportedly collided with two vessels and caused €40,000 worth of damage. It is understood he was tracked down, helped with inquiries and passed on his insurance details.

Press Association

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