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I did nothing wrong, insists defiant Callely

Ivor Callely's €80,000 expense claims will come under the spotlight again on Wednesday.

The senator, who insisted to a special Seanad committee yesterday that he had done "nothing wrong," also said that he will reimburse expenses claims if he is found to have unintentionally taken money that he should not have taken.

He was questioned for more than two hours by fellow senators.

The committee will hear evidence about the operation of the expenses system from a senior Oireachtas official from the members' services units on Wednesday

Mr Callely insisted yesterday that he broke no regulations in claiming from his west Cork home for travel expenses, despite having a base in Dublin.



Explain

He was asked to explain his €81,015 travel expenses and why he claimed for the 370km journey between Leinster House and his holiday home in Kilcrohane, west Cork, instead of from his residence in Clontarf, Dublin, over a two-year period.

He told fellow senators he had not moved his permanent address from Clontarf to west Cork because it was "financially advantageous".

He insisted that his home in Kilcrohane was his primary residence.

In often-rambling replies, he claimed his movements between Cork and Dublin had been partly as a result of personal issues -- but he didn't want to discuss those in public.

Mr Callely said he was living in his west Cork home "60pc plus" of the time and if the committee came to the conclusion that he had overclaimed travel expenses, he would pay it back.

Independent senator Joe O'Toole asked how he could have claimed travel expenses from west Cork when he had a house and constituency office in Dublin, an official correspondence address in Dublin and was also registered to vote in the capital.

Mr Callely replied that one would understand "from a political perspective" why he wanted to create an image that he was still involved in Dublin North Central.

Green Party senator Dan Boyle said that Mr Callely had ticked the accommodation box on his expenses forms to ensure he claimed overnight expenses for staying in his house in Clontarf -- as well as mileage expenses from west Cork.

The maximum penalty Mr Callely might face should things go against him is a month's suspension from the Seanad.

mlavery@herald.ie


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