Jailed former senator Ivor Callely has been granted bail at the High Court, pending the outcome of his challenge to the refusal of the minister for justice to grant him temporary release from prison.
High Court President Nicholas Kearns said the balance of justice favoured admitting the former Fianna Fáil politician to bail, pending the outcome of his judicial review action against the minister and the governor of Wheatfield Prison over refusals to grant him either temporary release or enhanced remission.
The judge accepted arguments from Callely’s lawyers that his case would become moot if he was not granted bail. The judge also agreed with Callely’s lawyers he has been a model prisoner, did not represent a flight risk and was not at risk of re-offending.
The case, he said, raised some “important legal issues”, particularly the issue concerning a prisoner’s entitlement to enhanced remission of up to one third of their sentences for good behaviour. Given the importance of these matters, the judge said the action should be heard as soon as possible, and would be given priority by the court.
Ivor Callely was not present in court for the bail application. He was remanded on bail on his own bond of €100 which was to be entered into before the prison governor.
Yesterday Kieran Kelly for Callely said if the normal one quarter remission wasapplied to his client his release date would be November 18 next.
If he was denied bail, and should he win his case, counsel said his client would “not be able to get back those extra days spent in prison”. If bail was granted, and Callely’s action proved ultimately unsuccessful, counsel said his client would return to prison to serve out the remaining days of his sentence.
In a sworn statement Callely’s solicitor Padraig O’Donovan said there was “no prejudice” to anyone if bail was granted. His client knows he will have to serve out any outstanding period of imprisonment if his case fails.
Mr O’Donovan added while on bail Callely will reside with a relative in Raheny and will comply with any conditions deemed necessary.
The State, represented by John Fitzgerald, opposed the bail application. Counsel said Callely was being held “on a valid order of detention”. Counsel said any decision by the minister to grant temporary release or enhanced remission was discretionary.
Callely, aged 56, was jailed last July after admitting he fraudulently claimed €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices. He was sentenced to a total of five months in prison.
Last month the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald turned down Callely’s application for temporary release, stating she was “of the view the breach of trust and abuse of public funds by a member of the Oireachtas must be considered in the most serious terms” and Callely “is not considered suitable for temporary release at this stage of his sentence”.
He claims the minister’s decision is unfair and he is not being treated the same as other prisoners, who have committed more serious crimes. The decision, he claims, flies in the face of reason common sense and is unfair.
He claims the minister has been unfairly influenced by his high profile, and the prospect of the adverse public reaction of his early release.
Arising out of the minister’s refusal Callely launched judicial review proceedings where he seeks orders quashing the minister’s decision to refuse him temporary release.
He also seeks declarations including he has fulfilled all the prescribed requirements for temporary release.
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