Importance of being Ivor revealed in lavish wishlist

IN December 2005, just before Ivor Callely’s ministerial career came crashing to a halt, he rejected rumours that he had demanded a new carpet and wider refurbishment in his office at the Department of Transport.

“The only thing I requested be put in my office was a clock,” he said.

But it was a very different story three years previously, according to documentation obtained by this paper.

Upon being appointed as a minister of state at the Department of Health in June 2002, Mr Callely requested an extensive refurbishment of the suite of offices afforded to him and his officials on the ninth floor of Hawkins House, Dublin city centre.

An August 2002 memo from an official in his office to the corporate services division of the department stated: “Please find appended a list of alterations requested by the Minister of State for the four offices on the 9th floor.

* All rooms are to be painted venetian yellow (SW1666 as per Sherwin Williams colour code).

* All rooms to be carpeted in blue (as used in the conference rooms).

* All rooms to be supplied with wooden venetian blinds. (The colours selected are available in the Minister of State’s Office).

* Minister’s office to be supplied with sound-proofing as used in the conference room.

* The wall between room 9.17 and 9.18 is to be retained. I can confirm that the Minister no longer wants a partition door and wall fitted in room 9.19.”

And so on. Hawkins House is an old, dated building and regarded unfavourably by many of those who work there, according to department officials. So it may have been that Mr Callely’s suite of offices was in need of extensive overhaul. Whatever the case, he got what he asked for — at a cost of comfortably more than €20,000 to the taxpayer.

No detail was apparently too small. For example, Mr Callely requested castors for one of the chairs he sat in.

A note from an official in his office to a service provider in the department stated: “In relation to the six chairs and matching meeting table that were recently refurbished for the Minister of State’s Office. Minister Callely has asked me to request that castors be fitted to one of the chairs that he will use for hosting meetings.”

In the same vein, Mr Callely asked that the plastic keyboard shelf of a computer trolley provided for his use “be replaced with a wooden shelf”.

Close attention was also paid to the signs announcing his office. An outside contractor was asked to change artwork for a proposed sign that read: “Office of the Minister of State” to “Office of The Minister of State”, the capital “T” apparently being important. The documentation does not indicate, however, whether it was Mr Callely or one of his officials who requested this change.

It does indicate that he requested his office stationery be redesigned — and here again, Mr Callely paid careful attention to the small things.

He first asked for changes in October 2002, requesting that the colour of the harp on the stationery be changed to blue, and that his “minister of state” title be lifted from underneath the harp to alongside it. He also requested that the department logo, name and strategy title be moved from one position on the page to another.

A few months later, in January 2003, he sought further changes to both his letterheads and his compliment slips.

A letter that month from the department to an outside contractor stated: “Minister Callely has requested a re-design of his letterheads (&) compliment slips.

“Samples, which were prepared by a design company, including a disk, are enclosed for your information… The following changes are required in both the letterhead and the comp slips:

* The colour in the Harp and in the ‘ball’ in the department’s logo should be deepened.

* The ‘&’ sign in the department’s address to be taken out and replaced by a hyphen.”

The letter indicated that the total quantity required “will be in the order of 50,000 (approx)”.

And why did Mr Callely want the harp and the ball to be deepened? A handwritten note by one of his officials to the department’s corporate services division (which would be dealing with the outside contractor) explained why:

“The Minister would like the harp & logo to be ‘deepened’ to give a rich appearance or feel,” the note said.

Mr Callely remained at the department until 2004, when he was appointed junior minister at the Department of Transport. He was forced to resign a year later when it emerged that a construction firm had painted his Clontarf home for free. He lost his Dáil seat in the 2007 general election and was appointed to the Seanad by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He is currently the subject of a Seanad investigation over his travel expenses. He did not respond to a request for comment at the weekend.

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