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We paid for Callely to go to Oslo to fight corruption

WE TAXPAYERS picked up the tab to send Ivor Callely on a whirlwind junket to Norway -- to fight corruption.

The Clontarf senator then used his time away to land himself a plum job that will ensure further trips around Europe.

You couldn't make it up.

But while the controversial Fianna Failer's career as a diplomat might be growing, his position in Leinster House is on the line this evening as he faces a further grilling over suspect expenses claims.

Mr Callely was due before a Select Committee on Members' Interests that has only one item on its agenda.

The committee is nearing the end of its investigation of allegations Mr Callely inappropriately obtained €81,000 in travel and subsistence expenses.

The money was paid out by the Oireachtas because the Clontarf senator was claiming his expenses from a holiday home in west Cork.

A report will be placed before the Seanad before it breaks for the summer recess and will include a recommendation as to whether or not Mr Callely should face any sanctions.

He has already been forced to forego the Fianna Fail parliamentary party whip.

If the committee finds against him it could seek to suspend him from the Seanad for up to 30 days and ask him to reimburse the money to the Exchequer.

Such a finding would inevitably heap pressure on the embattled senator to offer an apology or even resign.

A meeting of the Select Committee was originally scheduled for yesterday but had to be postponed because Mr Callely was on an extended trip to Oslo.

He had travelled to Norway for a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co- Operation in Europe, which ended on Saturday.

While at the conference, the senator was re-elected as vice-chairman of the General Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment.

And he was also involved in the completion of a report aimed at combating corruption.



Greed

In its conclusion, the report, entitled "Rule of Law: Combating Transnational Crime and Corruption", notes that corruption is the result of decisions "motivated by greed".

In its summary, the report quotes the ancient Roman historian Gaius Sallustius Crispus, who said: "Wealth does not diminish greed."

Mr Callely asked the Select Committee to look through his expenses claims after it emerged that he had claimed mileage and overnight costs from his holiday home in west Cork.

At the same time, his website openly declared that he was working hard in his political base in north Dublin.

A previous public meeting about the controversy heard Mr Callely admit that there were some anomalies with his claims but that he did not believe he had acted improperly.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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