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Callely fights for his future as colleagues round on €81k claim

IVOR Callely was today fighting for his political survival as both his Government colleagues and the opposition turned on him.

The senator faces expulsion from the Fianna Fail party unless he can rapidly provide the Taoiseach with a satisfactory explanation for his €81,000 travelling expenses.

Mr Callely's short statement to the Seanad yesterday in which he said he was "deeply upset and concerned" has done nothing to quell both political and public disquiet.

Sources within Fianna Fail say that the party's hierarchy, including Taoiseach Brian Cowen, are "not prepared to go out on a limb" for the former minister on this sensitive issue.

And Green senators are fuelling the controversy with the party's chairman Dan Boyle tweeting: "Disquiet will not be eased." His party colleague Mark Deary went further today saying that the Oireachtas was on the verge of a Westminster-style expenses scandal.

He said yesterday's statement left a "strange kind of vacuum in its aftermath" and gave no explanation.

"The country demanded it, the situation demanded it and he didn't provide it," said Senator Deary. He added that Callely has "used up a lot of goodwill", stating: "People's patience has run out at this stage."


A Seanad committee is now set to investigate how the Dublin-based Senator came to receive travel expenses from his second home in west Cork.

The Select Committee on Members' Interests will have to decide whether any improper claims have been made by the senator. Officially, Fianna Fail is saying that it takes the matter "very seriously and believes that it must be addressed comprehensively and transparently".

Mr Callelly was not available for comment early today but a young man who emerged from his Clontarf home told a Herald photographer: "You're lucky that camera wasn't smashed the other day."

Sources have told the Herald that Mr Callely is set to strenuously defend his position and intends to supply a series of Oireachtas correspondence as back-up.

"He sees himself as the victim in this controversy and will attempt to fight off any resignation calls," said the source.

Fine Gael Seanad leader Frances Fitzgerald, who is on the Select Committee, told the Herald today that the situation "demands a full explanation".

The Taoiseach is "happy" for the committee to examine all the relevant documentation, but he has reiterated a demand that Senator Callely furnish a detailed statement to the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.

It also emerged today that Mr Callely claimed overnight expenses for 289 working days in Leinster House at a cost to the taxpayer of €139 per night.

Documents show that he chalked up 90,160km travelling from Cork to Dublin in under two years. This was in spite of the fact that Mr Callely's family home is in Clontarf, less than 10km from the Seanad.

If he used his Dublin address as his primary residence he would only be entitled to a daily allowance of €61, but Oireachtas records confirm he listed his home address as "The Paddock, Kilcrohane, Bantry, Co Cork". The second home is some 370km