Belfast Telegraph

Callely claims 'an embarrassment'

The controversy surrounding Ivor Callely's expenses is an embarrassment to Fianna Fail, a senior Government minister has admitted.

Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said politics as a profession was being discredited by the revelations and that the Senator must deal with the issues facing him.

A parliamentary watchdog, due to reconvene at the end of the month to deal with allegations that Senator Callely used forged documents for expenses claims, has brought forward its hearing to Monday.

Ms Hanafin said she hoped the controversial Senator would provide answers at the Seanad Members' Interest Committee hearing.

She added: "It is an embarrassment and it also discredits the whole of the political profession. I really think it's important that any issues that are outstanding for Ivor Callely that he would deal with them immediately."

Fianna Fail suspended Senator Callely, without prejudice, earlier this week as it launched its own investigation into the allegations that he claimed around 3,000 euro for mobile phones from a company that had gone out of business.

Ms Hanafin claimed the expenses regime had been tightened in the last year.

She said: "This type of thing cannot happen again. It is much more accountable now. We're also bound by the standards in public office commission regarding all declarations. There are legal requirements there.

"They have to be upheld and I hope that Senator Ivor Callely ensures that he's able to provide the answers to the stories that we're reading."

Senator Callely is already facing a garda investigation after Commissioner Fachtna Murphy wrote to Seanad clerk Deirdre Lane requesting clarification on certain matters.

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