Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog probes senators' claims

Complaints surrounding the allowances of two further Fianna Fail Senators will be considered by a parliamentary watchdog probing allegations about Ivor Callely's expenses when it meets next week.

The Seanad Members' Interests Committee, due to meet at the end of August to discuss fresh allegations against Mr Callely, has brought forward a hearing to Monday because of the availability of members.

The body will study complaints from the public that Senators Ann Ormonde and Larry Butler were allegedly claiming travel allowances for addresses not listed as their official residence.

The seven-strong committee, sitting in private, will also review allegations that Senator Callely used invoices from a company that had gone out of business to claim mobile phone allowances.

The former junior minister is already facing a garda investigation after Commissioner Fachtna Murphy wrote to Seanad clerk Deirdre Lane requesting clarification on certain matters.

A spokesman for the Oireachtas said it would fully co-operate with the garda probe. "The Oireachtas intends to fully co-operate with all requests from An Garda Suiochana on this matter and will respond to any requests for assistance and clarification at the earliest possible juncture," a statement read.

"In order not to compromise or prejudice any aspect of this process, the Oireachtas is not in a position to publicly disclose the details of such correspondence."

Senator Ormonde reportedly claimed expenses from her holiday home in Waterford for a period of time despite her main residence being in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

Senator Butler resigned the Fianna Fail party whip in June after it emerged he allegedly claimed expenses from a home in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, even though his home was in Foxrock, south Co Dublin. In a statement, Senator Butler said he believed his name would be cleared in an investigation by a special Oireachtas committee.

The Committee previously probed Mr Callely's 81,000 euro travel and overnight expenses from his holiday home at Kilcrohane, west Cork, and forced his 20-day suspension from the Seanad.

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