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Ivor Callely and the €50 Cheque affrontery

July 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Irish Politics

A bizarre evening of testimony from Ivor Callely at the reconvened sitting of the Seanad Select Committee to investigate members interests.  As you may remember Ivor has been away in Norway and was unable to attend the committee until today.  He spent a lot of time during the hearing (whilst not answering the committee’s questions) talking about his trip to Oslo and the many meetings he was at and how he was the only person there from Ireland and he was just so busy. (We also learnt that he had not told anyone where he would be – which was a bit strange given he was on official business representing the Oireachtas as Head of Delegation) He also flew to Spain on family business on the way home so that delayed him further.

Senator Callely received a letter calling him to attend the meeting and enclosing a cheque for €50 to defray expenses in attending.  While one may be initially confused as to why the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad sent him the cheque it should be noted that he is required to do so under the legislation which underwrites the process which the Seanad select committee which is investigating the complaint against Senator Callely.

The Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act, 1997 is a little known piece of legislation. However it outlines the procedures for conducting the investigation, the oath that Senator Callely is required to swear and also that his expenses should be defrayed.

Section 2 (2) The reasonable expenses of a person who—

(a) pursuant to a direction, attends before a committee, or

(b) pursuant to subsection (1) of section 10 , appears before a committee or gives evidence to a committee that the committee considers was, in the interests of justice, necessary or expedient for any of the purposes specified in the said subsection (1),

shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Persons being called before a committee should also receive a letter outlining the meeting and requesting them to attend. Senator Callely didn’t like being written to and definitely did not like being given a cheque. He was in Oslo all last week and too busy to answer texts which were sent to him informing him of the meeting. Although he went into great detail today talking about sending a text and how he was too busy to talk to anyone.

It would not have paid the trip from Cork. Lucky that Senator Callely informed the committee today that he flew ‘home’ to Dublin late last night. The Senator has been confused at both sittings of the committee about where home is. And he’s not the only one confused at this stage. One nearly expected him to break out in that lovely Paul Young number ‘Wherever I lay my hat.’

The matter under investigation are complaints made against Senator Callely that he has contravened Section 8 of the Ethics Act 1995 as amended by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001. In english? He has claimed expenses from his Cork address whilst living in Dublin. The Senator claims to have lived in Cork since after the last General Election where he lost his seat and stayed in the family home when attending the Seanad.

I could go into detail about the questioning that was made of the Senator today regarding his homes, residence and constituency clinics (held in Dublin) but I might tie myself up in knots in the Senator’s answers and waving about of some 1938 legislation and near 30 year old advice from the Attorney General. It was surreal and exasperating if the expressions of some of his inquisitors were anything to go by!

We may learn the result of the committee’s investigation tomorrow. They can make recommendations to suspend him for up to 30 days.

Transcripts of the committee meetings can be read here.

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