Callely found guilty

The Seanad Members Interests Committee made the following findings in their report on the matter of Senator Callely’s expenses claims.

That he had misrepresented his place of residence for the purpose of claiming expenses. It described this as an act of a “serious and grave nature” which Mr. Callely had done “intentionally” and did not act in good faith having regard to all of the circumstances.

Here’s the layman’s translation.

Senator Callely deliberately set out to defraud the taxpayer.

The Committee suspended Callely for 20 days. They could have suspended him for 30 days but obviously concluded that robbing large wads of taxpayer’s money is not really a serious matter.

Measured against the rampant corruption within our political system this is a reasonable conclusion.

Expenses scandal confirms political system is still rotten to the core

We are constantly told by politicians that things are different now. We’re told that the (corrupt) political system has been reformed, that the system is now transparent and accountable.

The ongoing expenses scandal gives the lie to all such assertions.

There’s not even a need to make an argument on the matter, the words of the politicians themselves are sufficient to confirm that the system is still rotten to the core.

Michael D Higgins: (Labour TD)

I think it’s important that we acknowledge the new system is there and hope that people will realise that people like Ivor Callely are exceptional and allow the rest of us to address the really serious issues.

I would worry about my own sanity if I regarded it as politically important.

I do insist that presenting this exotic behaviour as anything typical would be quite irresponsible.

Clearly, Higgins does not think that alleged fraud by an Irish politician is a serious issue or politically important.

This attitude displays a disturbing ignorance of reality.

All corruption in Ireland ultimately originates from the corruption of the political system but people like Higgins have yet to even notice that fact never mind actually act against the disease.

He’s happy to wallow in ignorance and denial while blaming the media for everything.

Dr. John Doyle (DCU)

Irish politicians have very few supports in staff and other facilities compared to other EU parliaments…the broader picture is that Irish politicians are not on the gravy train compared to the Europeans and North Americans.

Lise Hand (Columnist with Irish Independent) when asked to respond to Doyle’s comments.

Just picking my jaw up off the floor here.

Mary O’Rourke (Fianna Fail TD)

Apparently he (Callely) is hunting for a get out clause. I think it’s all very nauseating and awfully bad for the body politic and it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

This is the politician who believed Bertie Ahern’s lies were quite reasonable explanations and was/is a great admirer of the criminal Haughey.

After Haughey died O’Rourke described his long and destructive record of criminality as ‘a few bumps on the road.’

Mary Hanafin (Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism)

The answers that have come forward to date are not very clear. Senator Callely has to explain the situation to the Senate Committee.

There are certainly serious questions being asked and I believe he should be absolutely up front and clear about it.

Answers not very clear? Callely should be up front and clear. Is this the same politician who regularly stated, without embarrassment, that she believed every convoluted word from the mouth of the chancer Bertie Ahern?

The reason for this rank hypocrisy from O’Rourke and Hanafin is simple. Callely is not important; in fact he’s not even liked within Fianna Fail. He’s not a Fianna Fail mafia don so he can be discarded,

Senator Regan (Fine Gael)

I think this is an important issue, an issue of fraud by a member of this house.

Regan was told to withdraw the remark and did so immediately. Fraud by an Irish politician – the very idea?

Senator Dearey (Green Party)

Dearey was asked what should happen next (regarding Callely)

Well, you’ll appreciate I’m the newest kid on the block in there. I was appointed in the last couple of days in February so the intricacies of Oireachtas procedures are not something I would claim to be an expert on yet.

So, this politician needs to become an expert on the intricacies of Oireachtas procedures before he can give an opinion on the difference between right and wrong.

Senator Mullen (Independent) (From Galway but lives in Dublin)

On being asked what advice he received from a fellow politician in relation to claiming expenses when he first entered the Senate in 2007.

You could claim your expenses from Ahascragh (Galway) and if you’re here long enough you’ll have a house out of it.

Senator Mullen’s response to this advice:

We all deal in our own way with bad suggestions like that. You don’t necessarily give the person a lecture on ethics and propriety on the spot.

Senator Mullen is a deeply conservative Catholic who constantly lecturers Irish citizens on ethical matters.

It would appear that ethics in politics, if that’s not an oxymoron, do not feature in this Senator’s sense of morality.

Senator Butler (Fianna Fail)

Gets paid €20,000 more in travel expenses because he says he’s moved home to county Carlow although his home address is listed as Foxrock in Dublin.

Senator Doherty (Sinn Fein, Donegal)

Senator Doherty questions why Fine Gael TD Dinny McGinley, who lives in the same town land as Doherty, claims substantially more travel expenses.

McGinley claims that he was advised by security people back in the troubles to stay within the state. Fear that he might become a war casualty results in him having to take a longer route to and from Dublin.

Apparently, nobody has informed the TD that the war ended about 20 years ago.

Senator Regan (Fine Gael) who angrily accused Callely of fraud said that McGinley’s claims were a minor matter but Senator Doherty responded that they amounted to tens of thousands of Euros.

Senator Doherty believes that politicians are grossly overpaid on expenses.

It doesn’t cost me €466 to get from Donegal to Dublin. I have a car over a four year loan period. Repayments are €310 per month and I get €466 per return journey.

Senator Regan (Fine Gael) on being asked why politicians do not use public transport.

There’s an efficiency problem with that. Coming from Donegal might not work for a local TD who needs to get back to his constituency to attend particular events. Some have to go back mid week so there’s a practicality to it.

Bullshit is the only possible response to this view.

Senator O’Brolchain (Green Party)

Asked did he think people (politicians) were going by train and claiming mileage for it?

Well, I’m absolutely certain of it. I know of many instances of that, there are many instances where people are abusing the system.

Senator White (Fianna Fail) The following comments are a mixture of insult, paternalism and lies.

I’m very conscious listening to the discussion so far that the Irish public is listening out there very, very worried and probably incensed.

They’re not understanding some of the language that’s being used -vouched, unvouched etc and I think it’s very confusing.

First of all I would like to reassure the Irish people that a new regime has just being brought in. It’s a radical change over what has gone on forever as far as I’m concerned.

It is highly transparent system now and to be honest when I first came to the Senate in 2002 I was amazed at the lack of transparency and the lack of having to produce vouched receipts.

I am acutely conscious that it’s taxpayers’ money that I am being paid and accountable for every day.

But I would really like to reassure the people that we now have a highly transparent system.

This stupid politician, who, by the way wants to be President, didn’t say if she intends educating a ‘confused’ and ‘ignorant’ Irish public on the meaning of such ‘complex’ words like vouched and unvouched.

Senator Labhras O’Murchu (Fianna Fail) (Based in Tipperary)

When O’Murchu was asked about his expenses he said that when in Dublin he stays at Comthlas headquarters for about €50 per night. He claims that he uses the balance of money to pay for the rest of his daily expenses.

O’Murchu is Director General of Comthlas. Comthlas has refused to make any comment on the matter.

Jackie Healy-Rae (Fianna Fail independent)

Healy Rae admitted that up until recently he has been driving to the Dail from his Kerry constituency in the company of another Oireachtas member. He refused to name the other politician or whether both of them have claimed expenses.

When pressed on the matter he responded:

I know my own business and I won’t be declaring it to you or anybody else.

In other words this backwoodsman is telling the media and the people of Ireland to take a hike.

His ignorant and arrogant attitude is a clear indication that nothing has changed in this country and as I have said on many occasions nothing will ever change until these traitors are thrown out of public office and the entire corrupt system under which they enrich themselves is brought crashing down.

Copy to:

Fianna Fail
Fine Gael
Green Party
Senator Mullen
Seanad Eireann
Dail Eireann

Senator O’Murchu’s curious sleeping arrangements

During a discussion about the ongoing expenses scandal Fianna Fail Senator, Labhras O Murchu, made what I thought was a very curious remark (Marian Finucane Show, Sat).

He explained that when he was in Dublin he stayed at Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann headquarters for €50 per night.

I checked this out and, according to Wikipedia, Senator O’Murchu is the Director General of Comhaltas.

I phoned the organisation this morning with a list of questions but was informed by a spokesperson that a press release on the matter would be released later today.

The spokesperson was clearly under pressure so I’m obviously not the only person asking questions about this curious arrangement.

Seanad Eireann: An elaborate cash-dispensing machine

It is now seven days since the Sunday Independent exposed Senator Ivor Callely’s dodgy expenses claims. Seven days and not a policeman in sight to investigate what are, in effect, serious allegations of fraud.

Liam Fay writes a hard hitting and accurate analysis of the scandal in today’s Sunday Times. Some quotes from is article.

The notion that Callely has “duties” in the sense that he provides a service or function is absurd. As one of the taoiseach’s appointees, he’s a professional placeman, a chair warmer.

Unelected and therefore unaccountable, he represents nobody but himself and has nothing to offer but his trademark self-importance.

Similarly, Callely is more emblematic of the culture of the Seanad than most senators will admit.

After all, the whole expenses system is a joke, an elaborate cash-dispensing machine that rewards senators for simply turning up to perform a part-time job of no discernible usefulness for which they are already overpaid in the first place.

As we are discovering, Callely isn’t the only senator to claim travel expenses from a distant address that is not officially listed as his home.

If the Callely affair proves anything, it’s the case for the abolition of the Seanad, a talking shop designed solely for the aggrandisement of a political elite.

Senator Norris – Defending the corrupt status quo

I see Senator Davin Norris launched his campaign for President on the Marian Finucane Show last Saturday.

My respect for this politician has dropped considerably since his hypocritical defence of that very expensive but useless institution – Seanad Eireann.

Indeed, the Senate can be seen as a symbol for all that is corrupt about our body politic. Totally ineffective, very expensive and stuffed with self important politicians who have more in common with the aristocracy of pre-revolutionary France than with the duties of running a functional democracy.

Senator Norris tells us that he likes (the chancer) Bertie but that he damaged himself by applying for artist’s exemption for his book and by the way he handled his lotto win.

Apparently, Norris has no problems with Ahern’s very dodgy evidence to the tribunal or his low grade leadership which resulted in the destruction of the country.

In fact Senator Norris thinks that the political system in this country is just fine, that it’s the people who are wrong.

People are begrudgers…they want blood on a wall, a head on a plate and guts in the bucket.

Yes, Senator, that’s exactly what we want and the fact that you cannot understand the legitimacy and passion of that desire puts you in the camp of those who are defending the corrupt status quo.

Copy to:
Senator Norris

Senator O'Toole places the safest bet in the universe

According to independent Senator Joe O’Toole: (Today with Pat Kenny, Thursday).

The Seanad is an exclusive, undemocratic, unrepresentative and anachronistic chamber and it cannot continue in its current form.

So why is O’Toole still a member (for the last 20 years) of this undemocratic and unrepresentative body?

Senator O’Toole again:

I would resign from the Seanad tomorrow morning if I got a commitment that all the reforms of the Seanad report were implemented.

If that was done I would feel that my life’s work as a Senator has been delivered, I’m not doing it for myself.

I have to admit this is the cleverest strategy of all in defence of this useless institution.

O’Toole knows that not a single member of this discredited body, past or present, (including himself) is serious about reform.

So promising to give it all up on the likelihood that all the dishonest talk about reform will suddenly result in actual reform is the safest bet in the universe.

Copy to:
Senator O’Toole