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I don't recognise Ivor phone receipts says company boss

A former businessman has revealed he could not recognise, nor vouch for, four receipts submitted by Senator Ivor Callely for expenses claims.

Kevin Baxter, who was managing director of Business Communications Ltd before it went into liquidation, told the Herald he did not recognise signatures on receipts which Senator Callely claimed were issued by his company.

His revelations came as members of Callely's party came out against him this morning.

Today, the Fianna Fail Mayor of Galway Michael Crowe declared Callely's position was "untenable" and said he should resign immediately. However, a spokesman for the Fianna Fail party issued a "no comment" reply when asked if the party would demand that Mr Callely resign from the Seanad and the Fianna Fail organisation.

"He is not a member of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party," said the party spokesman. "He receives no assistance from Fianna Fail, he gets no help from our press office, and receives none of the privileges of parliamentary party members."

Business Communications Ltd has not traded since 1994 -- yet Senator Callely submitted receipts for almost €2,900 for mobile phones which the senator purported were received by him from the company between 2002 and 2006.

Copies of the receipts were published in a Sunday newspaper. Mr Baxter told the Herald: "I certainly don't recognise any of the signatures or receipts. I haven't a clue."

He confirmed that the company was not in business on the dates that the senator claimed it supplied him with mobile phones.

He said he had a "faint recollection" his company installed a phone in the politician's office in Killester when the company was still in business several years before the dates in question.

Mr Baxter, now retired from business, said he was not a friend nor a supporter of Senator Callely. Pressure was growing on Senator Callely today to respond fully to the reports that he claimed almost €2,900 in expenses using invoices from the company, despite it having gone out of business.

Fine Gael's justice spokesman in the Seanad, Senator Eugene Regan, declared that in light of what Mr Baxter told the Herald, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Pat Moylan must immediately convene a committee of the Seanad to consider the allegations as "a matter of urgency".

"The garda should also investigate the allegations under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Act 2001," he said.

The documents published at the weekend showed Mr Callely submitted a claim for four different mobile phones and car kits in November 2007.

The phones were stated to have been purchased between 2002 and 2006, while Mr Callely was a TD and a junior minister, and the four invoices added up to almost €2,900.

Mr Brendan Foster, the liquidator who wound up Business Communications Ltd, confirmed the firm did not trade after 1994.

A spokesman for Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the reports about the invoices submitted by Senator Callely were "extremely disturbing".

"The Labour view is that this is an appropriate matter for investigation by the gardai," he said.

A garda spokesman told the Herald that the force would not be making a public statement about the specific allegations against the senator.

The new allegations, first published in the Mail on Sunday, come after Senator Callely was last month suspended from the Seanad for 20 days without pay after he claimed €80,000 in travel expenses from his holiday home.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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