Belfast Telegraph

Embattled Senator quits Fianna Fail

Scandal-hit Senator Ivor Callely has resigned from Fianna Fail after weeks of controversy over his suspect expenses claims.

The Seanad nominee of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern quit the party with immediate effect.

Fianna Fail said the Senator attended an internal committee over his expenses, asked for the hearing to be adjourned and resigned when he was refused more time.

Despite the sudden twist the inquiry continued without him and found his conduct was unbecoming of a member of the party. Mr Callely, a former junior minister, was flanked by a solicitor and Senior Counsel at the hearing.

"After careful consideration, the committee refused an application made on Senator Callely's behalf for a further adjournment of the proceedings of the committee," the party said."After a short adjournment, the committee was informed that Senator Callely had resigned from Fianna Fail and that he intended to take no further part in the proceedings of the committee. The committee proceeded in the absence of Senator Callely to conclude its investigation and made a finding of conduct unbecoming a member of Fianna Fail."

Mr Callely, whose constituency office was in Clontarf, north Dublin, was embroiled in a damning scandal over travel expenses and other questionable invoices. He claimed 80,000 euro for travel from his holiday home in Kilcrohane, west Cork and was subsequently suspended from the upper house for 20 days.

The Seanad Committee on Members' Interests found he deliberately misrepresented his normal place of residence as being the holiday home, rather than his house in Dublin, in order to make the claims.

He was also brought to book for mobile phone bills and asked to explain why there were four invoices from a defunct company. These bills ran to 2,900 euro for four different mobile phones and car kits in November 2007.

It is understood the Seanad committee also received a formal complaint about Mr Callely's failure to declare his interest in at least seven properties to Oireachtas authorities.

The Senator was being investigated by two committees - the Seanad body that suspended him for 20 days, and also by his former party. Fianna Fail moved to distance itself from his suspect claims last month by removing the whip.

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