No shortage of mystery as Ivor makes a stand

“YESTERDAY’S history and tomorrow’s a mystery.” So declared Ivor Callely at the Seanad probe investigating his travel expenses.

It was oddly apt. As far as Ivor is concerned, he would very much like if events of yesteryear — ie, his decision to list his West Cork house rather than the family home in Dublin as his principal residence in order to claim roughly €81,000 in travel-relatedexpenses — was consigned to history rather than being investigated.

“It was interesting to note that the running of the House(s of the Oireachtas) for the period of 2007 to 2009 was €393m, and we’re here talking about €80,000,” he said. “And I honestly would think that some (of the) public would say: ‘Let’s put things in perspective.’”

As for the mystery — well, there’s no shortage of it. Just ask the members of the Seanad committee carrying out the investigation.

Yesterday was the third public hearing of the committee since it began its work, and the second time Ivor has appeared before it to give evidence.

He said he was “annoyed” by the way he had been summoned to appear this time.

Just last week, he explained, he had been on important work at a conference in Norway organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He had family commitments in Spain at the weekend. But all of this was interrupted by a letter from the committee, which had already delayed its schedule to accommodate Mr Callely, demanding he be present for yesterday’s hearing. The letter came with a €50 cheque enclosed to cover travel costs. An “insulted” Mr Callely said he would not be cashing it.

Furthermore, he told the committee he would not be “bullied” by its members, such as Labour senator and barrister Alex White, who did a lot of the questioning.

Mr Callely explained that, because of the Norway trip, he didn’t have time to read all the relevant material for yesterday’s hearing. Yet he had time to conduct what might be termed some “opposition research”, as he was clearly prepared for his questioners. Several times when a committee member raised an issue, he referred to that committee member’s own circumstances — the insinuation seemingly being that Ivor was not the only one with questions to answer. He was challenged on all of these issues, but kept raising them — and some seemed very obvious red herrings.

At one point, for example, he suggested he knew of people who were able to claim expenses for attending funerals.

Committee member and Independent senator Joe O’Toole immediately pushed him on this, questioning how such a situation could be possible. In response, Mr Callely clarified that he was not talking about TDs or senators — but business people. At least that was one mystery resolved, anyway.


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