By Michael Brennan and Ralph Riegel
Friday July 16 2010
SENATOR Ivor Callely was under growing pressure last night to repay the €80,000 he claimed in travel expenses from his holiday home in west Cork.
But there are currently no plans to carry out investigations into two other senators who have admitted claiming travel expenses from outside the capital while also owning homes in Dublin.
Defence Minister Tony Killeen and fellow senators led the calls for Mr Callely to live up to his promise to repay the money if he was found to have been in breach of standards in public office regulations.
The Seanad committee on members’ interests found that the former Dublin North Central TD had intentionally misrepresented his holiday home in west Cork as his primary residence for the purpose of claiming travel expenses.
Some senators are privately hoping that Mr Callely may resign his seat but he has shown no sign of doing so. He is expected to return to the Seanad in December after serving his 20-day suspension.
The Seanad was unable to provide details yesterday of how much of his €69,647 annual salary would be docked while he served his suspension.
Mr Callely could face a garda investigation into his conduct if a member of the public decides to file a complaint. But gardai have refused to say if any complaints have been made.
“We can’t comment on any communications made to us by a named individual,” a garda spokesman said last night. Fine Gael senator Eugene Regan said it was his belief, after consulting with fellow barristers, that the gardai had the power to investigate whether Mr Callely committed an offence under the 2001 Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act.
Under the act, a person can be jailed for up to five years if they are found to have dishonestly engaged in deception to make a gain.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who personally appointed Mr Callely to the Seanad in 2007, last night placed the onus for getting back the money on Taoiseach Brian Cowen, when asked if he wanted Mr Callely to repay the cash. His spokesman said: “It’s a matter for the current Taoiseach”.
Mr Cowen is set to be quizzed about the matter in Dublin today at the announcement of a major investment in research and innovation in higher education. Mr Callely could not be contacted for comment yesterday and there was no sign of him outside his Clontarf home.
Senator Larry Butler — who resigned the Fianna Fail whip after it emerged that he claimed travel expenses from his house in Carlow despite owning a home in Foxrock, Dublin — said he intended to clear his name and would have no problem appearing before the members’ interests committee.
Senator Ann Ormonde (FF) has also come under scrutiny for claiming travel expenses from her cottage in Waterford for three months in 2004 while her home in Donnybrook, Dublin, was refurbished. She could not be contacted for comment.
Mr Killeen backed calls for Mr Callely to hand back any expenses which he incorrectly claimed.
“I think we should all accept that in instances where we have got payments we were not entitled to that it ought to be handed back,” he said.
Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Mary Hanafin said: “It behoves all of us in public office to ensure that we are using taxpayers’ money correctly and properly and so I hope that he will do that.”
Fine Gael Senator John Paul Phelan said: “He gave a commitment to repay the money so the honourable course of action is to repay it.”
– Michael Brennan and Ralph Riegel
Here we go again so the Piers of Senator Ivor Calley have passed judgment and now the public dance has started with the various political gombeens coming out and calling for him to payback his ill gotten gains but one can sense that there is a massive unease about these same political chancres will they be so squeaky clean if their own expenses come under scrutiny
Brian Cowens declaration to-day that he can’t fire Calley from the Seanad again demonstrates that there is one law for the well connected and the current members of the insiders circle and the rest of us can expect to go to jail if we forget to pay our car tax or TV license
Calley and the rest of the leaches that populate the Irish house of Lords should be given their marching orders and the house should be made into a hostel for the poor TD, s that are forced to stay in fancy hotels in the city
I am of course assuming that the said TD, s won’t mind sharing with their so called honorable colleagues!