Supreme Court hears appeal by Seanad over Callely challenge
Decision overturning finding that former Senator mispresented his place of residence appealed
Former Senator Ivor Callely
A seven judge Supreme Court has begun hearing an appeal by a Seanad Committee against a decision upholding former Senator Ivor Callely’s challenge to the committee’s findings on his expense claims.
Mr Callely (54) is in court for the appeal, listed to last two days.
The Seanad Committee on Members Interests is appealing against a High Court decsion overturning its finding, when dealing with then Senator Callely’s expenses claims, that he had misrepresented his place of residence as west Cork.
Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill ruled Mr Callely was in compliance with the applicable definition of “normal place of residence” when he made his expenses claim. The committee and the Seanad had misdirected themselves, in law, on this definition, the judge found.
He also found a breach of fair procedures in failing to afford the senator a reasonable opportunity to defend himself on a charge of breach of political ethics.
The committee’s decision, later confirmed by the Seanad itself, had censured Mr Callely by suspending him for 20 days with consequent loss of pay of nearly € 17,000.
After the High Court ruling, the sides agreed on the terms of an order quashing the committee’s findings and providing for Mr Callelly to be paid for the 20 days he had been suspended. He was also awarded costs of the case.
Opening the appeal today, Conleth Bradley SC, for the committee, said an issue in the appeal was whether or not the manner in which Mr Callely chose to make his expenses claim was referable to the ethics code under the relevant law.
There was no doubt Mr Callely complied with the Department of Finance definition of “normal place of residence” but that did not dispose of the issue, he argued.
The committee believed it had dealt with the matter before it as a political ethics issue, he said. It was not concerned with the Department of Finance’s definition of “normal place of residence” although it accepted that definition was sent out to Mr Callely.
The committee had found he had misrepresented his normal place of residence and had given reasons for that, he said.
The appeal continues.