Butler denies ‘rumours’ but resigns FF whip

FIANNA FÁIL Senator Larry Butler has insisted that the “rumours” surrounding his controversial expenses are “ill-founded” and that his name will be cleared.

But he confirmed last night that he would resign the party whip in a bid to end the “distraction” that the issue was causing to the Government and the Oireachtas.

He also announced that he would subject himself to the same Seanad committee that is examining his Fianna Fáil and Seanad colleague Ivor Callely’s expenses. Like Mr Callely, the controversy surrounding Mr Butler centres on the residence from which he has been claiming travel expenses.

Mr Butler has represented the Dun Laoghaire area for years and his official home address is listed as Foxrock, Co Dublin.

But he has registered a house in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, for the purposes of claiming travel allowances.

As a result, he has received much more in expenses than he would have if he had been registered in Dublin.

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Brian Cowen requested that the senator explain his position in writing to the party.

In his statement last night, Mr Butler confirmed that he had spoken to the Taoiseach and told him he was resigning the party whip.

Mr Butler also explained the circumstances behind his expenses claims.

“I am very proud to serve as senator, having been elected to Seanad Éireann in 2007. At that time, I retired from business and from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Because my family were all reared, I moved, with my wife, to Graiguenamanagh, where I was born,” he said.

“In fact, it is from this home that my daughter married in 2007 and from where my homecoming was celebrated after the Senate election.

“If it were not for the slump in the property market, we had intended selling our Foxrock house, which, while serving as a councillor from 1991 to 2007, I operated from.

“I live in Graiguenamanagh and this is my home. On sitting days of the Seanad, I stay at my house in Foxrock.

“For practical purposes, all postal and other communication is addressed to these premises.

“I acknowledge that in the minds of some that to maintain my Dublin address in respect of my political activities may have given rise to the rumours which have circulated concerning expenses and allowances, but these are ill-founded.

“I acknowledge that this is a distraction to the work of Houses of the Oireachtas, an Taoiseach, Fianna Fáil and the country; all having more important issues to deal with.”

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