Senators give their colleague chance to tell his side
IVOR Callely's Fianna Fail colleagues in the Seanad have shied away from calling on him to resign as they wait for him to provide a public explanation.
Four of the party's 24 senators last night said he should not resign because he was entitled to "due process".
And a friend of Mr Callely told the Irish Independent he was "on his knees" in the wake of the fresh allegations against him and said he should be "given a chance" to provide his side of the story.
Fianna Fail senator Labhras O Murchu, who is also the director general of traditional music organisation Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, said he believed his party had taken the right step by suspending Mr Callely without prejudice.
But he said the whole process had to be worked through before the question of Mr Callely resigning could be considered.
"We're still dealing with allegations and hopefully the internal inquiry in Fianna Fail will come up with a definitive report. But I would still be anxious to get a response from himself because none of us are privy to it and we need to know what's involved," he told the Irish Independent.
Mr Callely submitted an expenses claim to the Oireachtas Commission for almost €2,900 for four different mobile phones and car kits in November 2007.
He said he had purchased the products between 2002 and 2006. But the invoices for the purchases came from a company called Business Communications Ltd, which had been wound up eight years earlier.
Fianna Fail senator Geraldine Feeney also said she wanted to hear what Mr Callely had to say.
"I agree with him being suspended by the party without prejudice but you must give him a right to reply and until we hear that, it's kind of putting the cart before the horse," she said.
John Hanafin said that "due process" had to be followed before any question of Mr Callely resigning could arise.
Those who could not be contacted for comment included Seanad Cathaoirleach Pat Moylan. However, he is likely to be unable to comment because he is also the chair of the Seanad Committee on Members' Interests. It is meeting on August 31 to decide whether to set up an investigation into the latest allegations after a formal complaint by Green TD Paul Gogarty.
FF senator Camillus Glynn also said due process must be allowed take place.
Mr Glynn said it would not be proper for him to comment further, since he sits on the Seanad members' committee. Lisa McDonald said Mr Callely should make a statement but added that if the allegations were true he should resign.
Fianna Fail is preparing to begin its own inquiry into the expense claims allegations against Mr Callely and has suspended him from the party.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey also said that the issue of Mr Callely resigning his €69,647-a-year post was a matter for the senator.
"The party has made it quite clear that it thinks there's a case he has to answer. If he doesn't answer that, he's expelled from the party," he said. Junior Science and Innovation Minister Conor Lenihan also called on Mr Callely to clarify his position in the matter.
Under current electoral law, a senator cannot be removed from office unless he or she is sent to jail, declared bankrupt or found to have 'unsoundness of mind'.