Callely in court challenge against sanction

IVOR CALLELY has gone to the High Court to challenge his suspension from the Seanad and sue his fellow senators who recommended the sanction.

The Seanad imposed the 20-day suspension on Mr Callely just before the summer recess, after a cross-party committee found he had intentionally misrepresented his normal place of residence to claim expenses.

Mr Callely is now seeking a judicial review of several of the committee’s decisions and is seeking to sue its seven members – Seanad chair Pat Moylan, Denis O’Donovan and Camillus Glynn (all FF), Frances Fitzgerald (FG), Alex White (Lab), Dan Boyle (GP) and Joe O’Toole (Ind).

Mr Callely went to the High Court yesterday and briefly met with his legal team. His senior counsel, Michael O’Higgins, then informed Mr Justice Sean Ryan that he would today seek leave to legally challenge a number of the committee’s decisions.

Mr O’Higgins submitted papers bearing the senator’s name and those of the committee, including a sworn affidavit by Mr Callely.

Mr Justice Ryan agreed to read the papers overnight to facilitate the half-hour application, due to be heard ex parte (in the absence of the other parties) at 11am.

One Seanad source suggested Mr Callely’s application for a judicial review had a good chance of succeeding based on previous cases.

In 2001, Garda officers won a judicial review against an Oireachtas committee seeking to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of John Carthy in Abbeylara.

Similarly, in 2004, then Circuit Court Judge Brian Curtin won a judicial review against an Oireachtas committee seeking to investigate his conduct.

The Seanad committee investigating Mr Callely examined why the senator used a holiday home in West Cork from which to claim travel expenses rather than his family home in Dublin, after his Seanad appointment in 2007.

Mr Callely said he had lived in West Cork for the bulk of the period under scrutiny, commuting from there to the Seanad. But the committee found he had “intentionally” misrepresented his normal place of residence while claiming about €81,000 in expenses, thereby committing a “serious and grave offence”.

Earlier this month, Mr Callely resigned from Fianna Fáil following another expenses controversy over mobile phone receipts submitted to the Oireachtas from a company that had ceased trading.

The Seanad committee has launched a separate investigation into that issue and had given Mr Callely until tomorrow to furnish it with an explanation.

It is now unclear, however, as to whether the Seanad committee will proceed with that probe given Mr Callely’s legal challenge to its earlier findings.


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