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Callely faces being kicked out of Seanad in €81k expenses row

IVOR CALLELY faces being kicked out of the Seanad today over the €81k expenses scandal.

The shamed Senator, dressed in chinos and a grey t-shirt, relaxed at his Clontarf home today ahead of the probe into his controversial expenses claims.

However, he refused to answer any questions.

Less than half an hour later, Callely emerged dressed in a suit as he made his way to face his peers at Leinster House.

A special Committee on Members' Interests of the Seanad began investigating how the Dublin-based Senator claimed €81,015 for the journey between Leinster House and his holiday home in Cork instead of from his Clontarf residence.

The probe was set up on foot of two complaints from members of the public. And the quasi-judicial hearing will be held in public, rather than in private session as is the norm.

While it is almost certain that if found guilty Mr Callely will be booted out of the Seanad, he can only be dismissed for 30 days, as is currently the maximum sanction.

Senator Callely has admitted claiming from his west Cork holiday home but said that he decided to relocate there at a time when he was traumatised by the loss of his Dail seat.

He has said he felt "rejected" following the loss of his Dail seat in Dublin in 2007 and preferred to stay in west Cork.

"To be rejected like that it had a terrible impact on me," he said.

Senator Callely may call witnesses to give evidence on his behalf and it may be the case that members of the Leinster House staff could be asked to clarify the rules and procedures applying to the making of expenses claims.

He said he moved to Cork after the 2007 General Election.

"The personal problems I encountered after that election, I hope most people might try to understand," he explained.

"I had spent 27 years of my life in politics, and here I was now, just 50, out of a job and out of an income."

The Senator also said that the "controversy about the paint job on my house" forced him out as a junior minister.

The politician was forced to step down from his position as a junior minister in the Department of Transport when it emerged in 2005 that he had accepted a free paint job on his Clontarf home in the 1990s from a contractor involved in public contracts.

It is thought likely that a subsequent session will hear from Oireachtas officials who queried the controversial claims.

committee

The Committee is chaired by the Seanad Cathaoirleach Pat Moylan and includes Dan Boyle (Green), Frances Fitzgerald (FG), Senators Camillus Glynn and Denis O'Donovan (FF), Alex White (Lab) and Senator Joe O'Toole (Independent).

Neither Senator Callely nor the complainants can be present when the final determination in the case is being made.

At the end of its deliberations, the Committee will draft a report which will be presented to Seanad Eireann.

hnews@herald.ie


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