Committee confirms new complaint against Callely


A further complaint against Senator Ivor Callely has been received by the committee investigating his expenses claims, it has been confirmed.

A third investigation commenced by the Seanad Committee on Members' Interests relates to his alleged failure to declare in his annual Oireachtas statement of interest all his property assets that are not for family use.

The committee confirmed tonight it had given Mr Callely a further two weeks to respond to a complaint made about his mobile phone expenses.

Fianna Fáil senator Larry Butler will be invited before the committee in September to answer questions. The committee found that another Fianna Fáil senator, Ann Ormonde, had not misrepresented her place of residence for the purpose of making expenses claims.

It also found there were no reasonable grounds for a complaint made against Independent Senator Rónán Mullen by the People Before Profit group.

“With regard to Senator Ivor Callely and the mobile phone expenses, Senator Callely sought a further two weeks to provide the committee with a written response and the Committee has agreed to this request,” a statement said.

It said it had received a further complaint with regard to the Declaration of Members’ Interests completed by Mr Callely.

“The committee has determined to seek a detailed statement with regard to the complaint made from Senator Callely. The deadline for receipt of this statement is Tuesday, September 21st, 2010.”

Mr Callely was asked by the committee to explain in writing the basis for claims amounting to €3,000 submitted by him for mobile phone equipment, which were based on receipts from a telephone company that had been defunct for over 10 years.

The commitee spent almost three hours today considering its response to written explanations furnished to it by the four senators against whom complaints were made.

Three of the inquiries related to complaints about expenses claimed by senators.

The other complaints related to the two Fianna Fáil senators based in Dublin who claimed rural addresses as their normal place of residence for separate periods of time.

Larry Butler, who is based in Foxrock, claimed expenses from his holiday home in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, where he said he has based himself since being elected to the Seanad in 2007.

The committee said in a statement it had received a written response from Mr Butler and it would invite him to attend a public hearing on Tuesday September 21st to deal with questions.

Ann Ormonde said she transferred her principal residence to Waterford when her home in Dublin was being renovated. The committee said that while there were reasonable grounds for the complaint and while it was not frivolous or vexatious, Ms Ormonde had not misrepresented her normal place of residence for the purpose of making claims. No further action will be taken.

Mr Callely, who is based in Clontarf, has already been admonished by the committee and suspended from the Seanad for claiming that his holiday home in west Cork was his normal place of residence.

He claimed some €80,000 in expenses from west Cork between 2007 and 2009.

The fourth complaint was made against the independent senator Rónán Mullen over comments he made on a radio show. Mr Mullen said that an unnamed colleage had suggested to him he claim expenses from his birthplace, Galway, rather than Dublin.

The National University of Ireland senator has never claimed expenses from outside the capital.

A member of the People Before Profit alliance complained that Mr Mullen should have named the colleague. Mr Mullen was highly critical of the committee following its last meeting a fortnight ago, when it dealt with his complaint along with the other three.

The committee found there were "no reasonable grounds for the complaint" and said no further action will be taken against Mr Mullen.