Callely suspended from Seanad for 20 days

IVOR CALLELY was last night given a 20-day suspension from the Seanad for deliberately misrepresenting his normal place of residence in order to claim travel expenses.

Oireachtas watchdogs ruled that the north Dublin senator committed a “serious and grave” breach of the rules by naming his West Cork holiday home as his primary residence.

The probe into Mr Callely came after it was revealed the North Dublin Senator had claimed €81,015 in travel expenses centred on the Bantry Bay abode in a two-year period.

The Seanad’s standards committee warned that the misrepresentation was still continuing and must now cease and called on Mr Callely to make good on his pledge to reimburse any overpayment of expenses.

In the ruling’s most damning passage, the committee found Mr Callely had “intentionally” misrepresented his living arrangement to Oireachtas authorities.

This was an act of a “serious and grave nature,” and the senator had not acted in good faith, it stated.

Evidence highlighted by the report showing that Mr Callely had acted to deliberately misrepresent his situation included the fact that he describes his Clontarf residence as his family home, maintains an office in Dublin and states on his websites he continues to work in his former Dáil constituency. Mr Callely also directed Seanad authorities to send his post to his Clontarf home and is registered to vote in Dublin.

The committee said the fact that Mr Callely had entered no claims for the last four months of 2008 and 2009 strengthened their conclusions.

Mr Callely’s pay for the 20 days he is suspended from the Seanad should be docked, the ruling urged.

As the Seanad voted to suspend Mr Callely, Fine Gael Senator Eugene Regan stressed the need for the senator to repay any money he was not entitled to.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has already called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to “remove” Mr Callely from the Seanad after the Fianna Fáil whip was removed from him pending the outcome of the inquiry.

The ruling found that the senator had not behaved properly for a member of the upper house. “The committee finds such action was inconsistent with the proper performance by Senator Callely of the function of the office of Senator, was inconsistent with the maintenance of confidence in the performance of Senator Callely of the function of the office of Senator by the public and was of significant public importance.”

The inquiry was launched after the committee found there was evidence for a probe under standards in public office legislation.

Last night, Mr Callely said that he “strenuously denies the allegations” and will be considering his options.


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