Senator Ivor Callely is a non entity; he’s nothing more than an arrogant moron who doesn’t even possess the political intelligence necessary to get him out of his troubles.
But let there be no doubt, it is Callely’s political stupidity, his complete failure to understand and play by the rules of the corrupt political system that makes him so dangerous.
His failure to resign, his failure to accept the findings of the Seanad Members Interests Committee, his failure to respond quickly and effectively to the ongoing series of media revelations all continue to expose the rotten political system.
This is why politicians, from all parties, are in such a panic over Callely, why they hate him so much. His political stupidity is unwittingly exposing them, and the rotten system they so efficiently operate for their own benefit, to public scrutiny.
Let’s just look a one aspect of the corrupt system that has been exposed – Did Callely commit a criminal act when he falsely claimed €81,000 in travel expenses?
The Committee for Members Interests found that Callely had deliberately misrepresented his normal place of residence for the purpose of claiming allowances.
This action resulted in a loss to the taxpayer of €81,000 but the entire body politic is of the opinion that this particular act by Callely is not a criminal offence.
As far as members of Seanad and Dail Eireann are concerned Callely is guilty of nothing more than breaking the internal code of their exclusive club or as the committee’s report put it:
Not acting in good faith having regard to all of the circumstances.
They clearly believe that the alleged submission of false claims by Callely for €81,000 for travel expenses is not a criminal act and can therefore be dealt with as an in house breach of the rules.
On the other hand they believe that the alleged submission of false claims by Callely for €3,000 for mobile phones is a criminal act and should be dealt with by the Guards.
Here’s what two senators had to say on the matter
Independent senator Joe O’Toole (Marian Finucane Show, Sunday 22nd August).
It’s very important to know that a committee of the Seanad or of politicians should never be allowed, in a democracy, to investigate crimes…crimes should always be the business of the Gardai…if somebody is found to have committed a crime or is suspected to have committed a crime, that’s a matter for the Gardai.
It would be a banana republic if you put senators and TDs in charge of investigating a colleague with the power to penalties above and beyond what’s there.
This quote is slightly out of context but it’s clear that Senator O’Toole does not believe the committee was investigating a crime, he does not believe that Callely committed a criminal act when he falsely claimed €81,000 in travel expenses.
He does, apparently, believe that the alleged submission of a false claim by Callely for €3,000 for mobile phones is probably a criminal act and is therefore a matter for the Guards.
Independent senator Ronan Mullen’s reaction to the alleged false travel expenses claim by Callely for €81,000:
I find it hard to see where it could be made out that there was a criminal act per se. A person has to be judged according to the law as it stood at the time they did what they did.
During a recent RTE interview regarding the alleged false expenses claim by Callely for €3,000 for mobile phones Mullen said:
But we can park, at least, the criminal side of it and say let the proper authorities do their work and hopefully they will do their work and investigate it and let’s not do anything here to impede that.
Again, it’s clear that Mullen does not believe that Callely committed a criminal act when he falsely claimed €81,000 in travel expenses but does believe that the alleged submission of a false claim by Callely for €3,000 for mobile phones is probably a criminal act and is therefore a matter for the Guards.
The law on the matter is crystal clear (My emphasis).
Theft and Fraud Offences Act 2001 Section 10 (False accounting).
A person is guilty of an offence if he or she dishonestly, with the intention of making a gain for himself or herself or another, or of causing loss to another
(a) Destroys, defaces, conceals or falsifies any account or any document made or required for any accounting purpose,
(b) fails to make or complete any account or any such document,
c) in furnishing information for any purpose produces or makes use of any account, or any such document, which to his or her knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular.
(2) For the purposes of this section a person shall be treated as falsifying an account or other document if he or she—
(a) makes or concurs in making therein an entry which is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, or
b) omits or concurs in omitting a material particular there from
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.
In a real democracy like the UK, for example, Senator Callely would be under police investigation.
Tory Peer, Paul White known as Lord Hanningfield is under police investigation for allegedly dishonestly submitting claims for expenses to which he knew he was not entitled.
It’s worth reproducing the UK law for comparison purposes (My emphasis).
17. False accounting.
(1) Where a person dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another,
(a) destroys, defaces, conceals or falsifies any account or any record or document made or required for any accounting purpose;
(b) in furnishing information for any purpose produces or makes use of any account, or any such record or document as aforesaid, which to his knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular; he shall, on conviction on indictment, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
(2) For purposes of this section a person who makes or concurs in making in an account or other document an entry which is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, or who omits or concurs in omitting a material particular from an account or other document, is to be treated as falsifying the account or document.
The law regarding the allegations in both jurisdictions is practically identical. In the UK it’s a matter for the police and the courts, in Ireland it’s a political matter.
In other words, it’s the difference between an accountable democracy and a banana republic.
The bottom line is simple: The corrupt political system in Ireland cannot allow a serious police investigation into political expenses because to do so would risk exposing the whole rotten system.
Seanad Committee for Members Interests