Callely launches bid to get out of jail

Jailed former politician Ivor Callely has launched a High Court action to get out of prison.

The legal challenge is aimed at overturning a refusal by the justice minister to grant the former Fianna Fáil politician and senator temporary release from Wheatfield Prison.

Callely, aged 56, was jailed in July after it was found that he fraudulently claimed €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices. He pleaded guilty to the offences and was sentenced to a total five months in prison by Judge Mary Ellen Ring.

He commenced serving the sentence in Mountjoy before being transferred to Wheatfield prison.

Yesterday at the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Faherty heard Callely was a model prisoner and had applied for, but was refused, temporary release by the minister. Ms Justice Faherty said she was satisfied to grant Callely leave to have the minister’s refusal judicially reviewed and that legal challenge will now come before the court next week.

On October 28, minister Frances Fitzgerald, in her decision refusing Callely temporary release, said she was “of the view that the breach of trust and abuse of public funds by a member of the Oireachtas must be considered in the most serious terms and Mr Callely is not considered suitable for temporary release at this stage of his sentence”.

Callely claims Ms Fitzgerald’s decision is unfair and that he is not being treated the same as other prisoners, who have committed more serious crimes. The decision flies in the face of common sense and is unfair in the circumstances, he contends.

He claims Ms Fitzgerald has been unfairly influenced by his high profile, and the prospect of the adverse public reaction of the early release of a former politician.

In a sworn statement to the court, Callely said he has been told by prison staff that he should not be in prison and is only being kept there because of his high profile.


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