Callely resigns Fianna Fáil party whip

Fianna Fáil Senator Ivor Callely tonight resigned the party whip over an expenses scandal.

Fianna Fáil Senator Ivor Callely tonight resigned the party whip over an expenses scandal.

He said sorry after claiming €81,000 euro in travel expenses from a home which was not listed as his primary address.

“I deeply regret that the statement I made in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday was not sufficient and with hindsight I would have handled that opportunity differently. I did not furnish enough information and I apologise for that,” he said.

“There are anomalies in the old expenses system and I was endeavouring to address them in order to reflect my personal circumstances.”

Mr Callely, a former TD for Dublin North Central, claimed more than €81,000 in travel and overnight expenses over two and a half years.

Despite Clontarf being listed on the Oireachtas website as his principal address, he told Oireachtas officials in 2007 that the family holiday home in Kilcrohane, west Cork, about 370km from Dublin, was his principal residence.

The Seanad Committee on Members’ Interests, chaired by Cathaoirleach Pat Moylan, has launched a formal investigation into his claims.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen this week asked Government Chief Whip John Curran to bring a motion to a specially convened Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting next week seeking the removal of the whip from Mr Callely.

Senator Larry Butler resigned from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party last night as he became the first politician to suffer the fallout from the controversy over Oireachtas travel allowances.

Mr Butler was asked by the party to clarify his travel allowances in writing following the revelation that he had listed his home as Foxrock in Dublin but had claimed travel and accommodation allowances from an address in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny.

Mr Butler said the Co Kilkenny property was his primary address. He also said he had intended to sell his Foxrock home but had been unable to because of the property market crash.

Yesterday, a succession of senior Fianna Fáil Ministers called on Mr Callely to resign the party whip.

Mr Cowen said his view was that Mr Callely should resign, and the party was taking the matter very seriously. Speaking in Tullamore, he said he was not aware of any other Oireachtas members who have similar issues over their expenses.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said if there was any other Fianna Fáil member in that position they “should come forward immediately”.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said Mr Callely should resign from the Seanad completely.

Speaking in Limerick, Mr Gilmore said it was now a matter for the Taoiseach to see him removed from the Seanad.

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