Forgery allegation marks new low for Fianna Fail

A police investigation is underway after evidence of fraudulent expenses claims by Senator Ivor Callely was published by the tabloid media.

The Senator has already caused considerable shame and embarrassment to Fianna Fail after his absurd claims for travel and accomodation expenses were revealed by the media earlier this summer, leading to his suspension from the Fianna Fail parliamentary party.

The latest accusations are that Callely forged invoices in order to claim thousands of Euro for mobile phone kits when he was a junior minister. The Dublin man, who also claims residence in Cork, has now been suspended from Fianna Fail itself.

A Seanad [Senate] committee will also consider the situation of two other senators, Larry Butler, who resigned from the Fianna Fail parliamentary party, and Ann Ormonde, both of whom face questions over travel claims.

Politicians from all sides of the Dublin parliament have expressed unease over the latest revelations as Mr Callely continued to ignore pleas from ministers to explain himself.

There have also been mounting calls for the upper chamber of the parliament, which exercises few genuine powers and is largely unelected, to be scrapped.

Fine Gael said it would not be acceptable for Mr Callely to walk away from the Seanad with a “golden goodbye” if he did finally yield to calls for his resignation.

Under parliament rules, Mr Callely, who served 18 years as a TD before being appointed to the Seanad in 2007, would be entitled to a severance package believed to be worth around 160,000 euro, plus an annual pension of just under 60,000 euro.

Minister Conor Lenihan called on Mr Callely to break his silence.

“The whole controversy involving this particular expenses claim is doing huge and untold damage to politics in this country,” he said.

The leader of Sinn Fein’s parliamentary party in Dublin, Caoimhghin O Caolain said that Callely was nominated to the Seanad by Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader, Brian Cowen.

“In light of the ongoing controversy surrounding him it is now up to the Taoiseach to demand his resignation,” he said.

“We currently have a situation where Fianna Fail and Green Party members are calling for some action on the matter but to date the Taoiseach has provided no leadership.

“It is time that Brian Cowen removed his head from the sand and realised that he needs to make a clear and unambiguous statement on this issue.”

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