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Second senator in row over expenses

A SECOND Dublin Fianna Fail senator has been claiming thousands of euro on a country residence.

Just as Ivor Callely's chequered career as a politician was nearing an end today, Foxrock-based Senator Larry Butler spoke about his €20,000 claims for travel.

The scandal deepened as Dun Laoghaire senator Butler admitted to the Herald that he spends most of the week at his Foxrock home but claims travel expenses from Carlow.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has now demanded that the senator fully explain claims thought to be worth around €20,000.

Both Dublin senators were clinging to their positions today arguing that there are "anomalies in the expenses system".



Spirit

Mr Butler was a member of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council for 16 years but has told Oireachtas accountants his primary residence is in Graiguenamanagh, Co Carlow.

Speaking about the two cases today, Transport Minster Noel Dempsey said: "Public representatives should always operate on the spirit as well as the letter of the law."

Mr Butler's case appears similar to that of Mr Callely who will be booted out of Fianna Fail next week, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Select Committee on Members' Interests.

The disgraced former junior minister has benefited to the tune of over €80,000 by listing his west Cork holiday home as a primary residence, despite the fact that it has been up for sale for around two years.

He is determined to defend his position, blaming the "complex" expenses' regime for his current woes, but sources within Fianna Fail have told the Herald that he is "on his own with this one".

That stance appears to be reflected by an official statement from the Party and comments by the Transport Minister.

"He was asked for an explanation and we haven't got that ... This is nothing directly to do with the party," said Minister Dempsey.

A Fianna Fail spokesperson said: "The Chief Whip will propose a motion at the next meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party that the Party Whip be removed from Senator Callely, without prejudice, and pending the completion of the work of the committee."

Party chiefs are now likely to take a similar approach to Mr Butler's situation.

Asked by the Herald why he chose to list Graiguenamanagh, Co Carlow as his primary residence, Mr Butler said: "Me and Kathleen went to live there before the last elections. We were going to sell here (in Dublin) and live there, but the market got bad."

When queried as to why he hadn't then changed his address back to the Dublin one Butler declined to answer, saying instead that he would be making a statement on the issue later today.

hnews@herald.ie


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