Callely court case set for Tuesday

Callely court case set for Tuesday

Senator Ivor Callely's legal action aimed at quashing a Senaid committee's finding that he misrepresented his normal place of residence in order to claim expenses will begin before the High Court on Tuesday.

The Senator is seeking orders from the court aimed at quashing the Seanad's Select Committee's of Members Interests decision that Senator Callely had intentional misrepresented his normal place of residence as Kilcrohane, Bantry, Co Cork in order to claim allowances.

As a result of the Committee's findings he received a 20-day suspension from the Senad.

He claims that the committee erred in law in arriving at their decision and did not afford him fair procedures.

As a result of the report he has been portrayed as "a rogue politician" who "ripped off the taxpayer".

The Senator is seeking a number of declarations and orders including that the report findings are quashed and declared null and void.

The Senator is also seeking damages. The Committee is opposing the Senator's challenge against its decision.

The court also heard that Senator Callely's legal team intends to bring a motion seeking the discovery of transcripts taken during a number of private sessions conducted by the committee members during the course of the hearing of the complaints against the Senator.

Michael O'Higgins SC for the Senator said that those transcripts, considered to be important to the case, had been sought. However in a letter the committee had refused to furnish them.

However Counsel for the Committee Eileen Barrington Bl said that those transcripts from those sessions would not be provided because they are privileged documents.

The members of that committee are Senators Pat Moylan (FF) who is also Seanad Cathaoirleach Camilus Glynn (FF) Denis O'Donovan (FF) Joe O'Toole (Independent), Alex White (Labour), Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) and Dan Boyle (Green Party).

Today when the matter was briefly mentioned before the courts the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns informed the parties that Mr Justice Iarfhlaith Ó Neill had been assigned to hear the case.

The Judge said that the matter had been given priority, and that any dispute concerning the transcripts would have to be considered by Mr Justice Ó Neill.

The hearing is expected to last for three days.

Previously Mr O'Higgins SC for Senator Callely told the court said the the only complaint before the committee was that Mr Callely had misrepresented his normal place of residence.

Counsel said that his client's claim for expenses from west Cork was validly made under the definition of a member's 'normal place of residence'.

Counsel said that under a definition by the Department of Finance, supplied to him by the Members Services of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, this normal place of residence did not necessarily have to be a permanent, principal abode, but had to be a premises that was used for a lengthy period and went beyond mere shelter or passage - such as a few nights in a hotel.

Counsel said that it was Mr Callely's view and the view of the Members Services that he was entitled to make the expense claim he did.

Counsel said that during their investigation the Committee erred in law by confused the meaning of the definition of what is a normal place of residence.

Counsel said that Mr Callely had a legitimate expectation that the working definition of place of residence that he was provided with by would apply when the committee was considering the complaints against him.

However Counsel said that the Committee had disregarded the definition which it was not entitled to do.

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