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#Seanad Éireann

# seanad-eireann - Monday 3 January, 2011

Vote to scrap Seanad could be held within months

The government admits it is to discuss holding a referendum scrapping the upper house on the same day as the next election.

The 9 at 9: Monday

Nine things you really need to know this morning: A referendum on scrapping the Seanad, more speculation of a Fianna Fáil heave, and water outages for two more weeks.

# seanad-eireann - Friday 3 December, 2010

No early election, as Oireachtas set for five-week Christmas holiday

No early election, as Oireachtas set for five-week Christmas holiday

The provisional calendar schedules the Dáil to finish for Christmas on December 16, and not return until January 19.

# seanad-eireann - Friday 26 November, 2010

AS COUNTING CONTINUES in Donegal South West, there are other electoral developments around the country. Fine Gael’s Ulick Burke has followed the lead of his constituency colleague Paul Connaughton by saying he won’t contest the next general election, while NUI senator Joe O’Toole says he too will bow out next time round. Ivana Bacik, meanwhile, is rumoured to be ran by Labour as a running mate to Eamon Gilmore in the hotly-contested Dún Laoghaire Dáil constituency.

# seanad-eireann - Thursday 28 October, 2010

Cassidy apologises over 'it's not easy' remarks

The Leader of the Seanad says sorry for claiming it’s tough to live on €65k a year.

# seanad-eireann - Wednesday 27 October, 2010

Ash cloud TDs granted expenses they never incurred

Four TDs stranded abroad are given permission to declare themselves ‘present’ in Leinster House – and claim expenses.

# seanad-eireann - Wednesday 6 October, 2010

Seanad lawyers tell Court it cannot hear Callely appeal

Lawyers for the Seanad committee that suspended Ivor Callely tell the High Court to butt out of Oireachtas business.

FF senator claimed €146,000 in expenses after changing address

Senator Don Lydon changed his address from Dublin to Donegal in 2004, and received huge expenses over three years.

# seanad-eireann - Tuesday 7 September, 2010

IVOR CALLELY’S LAWYERS have told the High Court that their client “has not had a day’s peace” since being suspended from the Seanad for twenty working days by its committee on member’s interests. Asking the court to hear a challenge from the Senator against the committee, they said Ivor had been portrayed as “chancer”, a “rogue”, and as “throughly dispicable”.

What is it that Ivor wants the court to do?

Callely will today launch a High Court challenge into his Seanad suspension. What are his arguments likely to be?

# seanad-eireann - Monday 23 August, 2010

IVOR CALLELY HAS been granted two weeks by the Seanad Select Committee on Members’ Interests to respond to the various allegations about his travel and telephone expenses claims.

The committee has also given him one month to explain to the Oireachtas authorities why he did not declare his interest in several properties on the Register of Members’ Interests.

Callely did not declare his Cork holiday home in any of his annual filings since 2007, nor did he mention many other properties he co-owns with his wife Jennifer.

He has also returned almost €3,000 paid as a result of mobile phone expenses forms relating to his time as a TD which bore the letterhead of a company that had gone out of business in 1994.

Yesterday’s Sunday Tribune showed, however, that further to claiming mileage expenses from his Cork address while being based in Clontarf, Callely had also been claiming the full travel allowance allowed to him when a junior minister – despite living just three miles from the Dáil.

Separately, the committee will hold a public meeting in four weeks’ time to question Senator Larry Butler, who claimed travel expenses from an address in Graiguenamanagh in Co Kilkenny despite being based in Foxrock for most of his time in the Seanad.

The committee has dropped complaints against Senators Ann Ormonde, who switched addresses to Waterford while her regular home in Donnybrook was being refurbished, and Rónán Mullen, who had relayed an anecdote about being advised to claim from a separate address.

# seanad-eireann - Friday 20 August, 2010

THE FOUR SENATORS subject to complaints made to the Seanad Committee on Members’ Interests – Ivor Callely, Larry Butler, Ann Ormonde and Rónán Mullen have submitted formal responses to the committee’s questions. Callely appears before the committee on Monday.

# seanad-eireann - Monday 9 August, 2010

THE TAOISEACH says he can’t force Ivor Callely out of his job – despite the fact he’s in the Seanad as a Taoiseach’s appointee. Why?

Well, it’s actually a rather simple reason. Article 18 of the Constitution of Ireland outlines the makeup of the Seanad, which (as it says) includes 49 elected members and 11 “appointed” ones.

Here’s two appropriate passages from subsections of Article 18:

3. The nominated members of Seanad Éireann shall be nominated, with their prior consent, by the Taoiseach who is appointed next after the re-assembly of Dáil Éireann following the dissolution thereof which occasions the nomination of the said members. [...]

8. A general election for Seanad Éireann shall take place not later than ninety days after a dissolution of Dáil Éireann, and the first meeting of Seanad Éireann after the general election shall take place on a day to be fixed by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach.

So, all simple so far. The Seanad is dissolved at the same time as the Dáil. The Dáil is elected, meets and appoints a Taoiseach. There’s then a Seanad election for 49 of the 60 seats, and the new Taoiseach then gets to hand-pick the other 11 people.

In 2007, Bertie Ahern was given his third term as Taoiseach, and thus the Manchester United fan got to hand-pick his starting 11. As is customary, he gave two seats to each of his coalition partners, the Greens and the Progressive Democrats.

Ahern appointed one independent – Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris, who fought his case on the Late Late Show just before the general election – and six members of Fianna Fáil, including Callely.

Now let’s skip down to subsection 9:

9. Every member of Seanad Éireann shall, unless he dies, resigns, or becomes disqualified, continue to hold office until the day before the polling day of the general election for Seanad Éireann next held after his election or nomination.

This is the key point of contention – while most might think that the Taoiseach ought to be able to remove someone’s Seanad membership just as easily as they can give it, it’s not the case.

Take the people Ahern appointed – Senator Ciarán Cannon, who was appointed as one of the two Progressive Democrats and even went on to lead the party, joined Fine Gael when the PDs disbanded. Surely, if a Taoiseach could remove a member, he would have done so then.

So Article 18.9 guarantees that a Senator can’t be kicked out unless they’re “disqualified”, begging the question: how is someone disqualified? Well, that’s slightly more ill-defined. Says Article 18.2:

2. A person to be eligible for membership of Seanad Éireann must be eligible to become a member of Dáil Éireann.

Assuming the same criteria apply to ineligibility as they do to eligibility - a matter which hasn’t been clarified or proven in court - the following bar someone from membership of the Dáil, and thus (presumably) the Seanad:

  • Membership of the European Commission or being a judge, advocate general or registrar of the European Court of Justice
  • Membership of the Court of Auditors of the European Community
  • Membership of the Garda Síochana
  • Full-time membership of of the Defence Forces
  • Being a civil servant and not having explicit permission to run for the Dáil in your contract
  • Being of unsound mind
  • Being in prison for a term greater than 6 months
  • Being an undischarged bankrupt
  • Being the President, a member of the Seanad, the Comptroller and Auditor General or a Judge.

Therefore, realistically, the only way Ivor Callely can be stripped of his Seanad membership is if he is somehow given a prison term of longer than six months.

The only way to avoid this procedure in future would be to amend the constitution inserting a provision that allows a member be sacked – which would require a national referendum.

# seanad-eireann - Thursday 5 August, 2010

IF IVOR CALLELY bows to public pressure and quit his seat in the Seanad, he would be comforted by a tax-free lump sum of €158,539, it has emerged.

Figures published today by The Irish Daily Star suggest that Callely would be entitled to three years of his Dáil pension up front, as well as three years of his Seanad pension and a termination lump sum of almost €11,000.

His annual Dáil pension – which he does not currently receive, as a sitting parliamentarian – totals €44,280 per annum because of his eighteen years in the lower house, while his Seanad pension for his three years there amounts to €4,921 a year.

This means that Callely would be given €132,840 in respect of his career as a TD, €14,763 for his time as a senator, and a termination lump sum – all tax tree – upon his departure from politics, totalling to €158,539 in an instant tax-free payoff.

What’s more, the controversial senator would earn up to €25,000 in an incremented termination payment over the nine months following his eventual departure.

Callely would also be entitled to an annual ministerial pension of €6,637 for the rest of his life, as well as his Dáil and Seanad pensions – meaning that separate to his tax-free lump sum, Callely would earn €55,838 in his various pensions every year.

All the figures added together mean that Ivor would make almost €240,000 in the twelve months after he quits – meaning that his inevitable ignominious departure from politics wouldn’t be without its benefits.

# seanad-eireann - Tuesday 3 August, 2010

FIANNA FÁIL has suspended senator Ivor Callely as more allegations surface regarding his expenses claims.

Following mounting pressure Fianna Fáil has suspended the senator, pending the outcome of an investigation into claims that he used forged documents to make expenses claims.

Callely claimed nearly €3,000 from the Oireachtas for the purchase of mobile phones and related services -  however, the company Callely claimed to have dealt with, ‘Business Communications Ltd’,  had stopped trading a year before his first submitted receipt was issued.

Last month, Callely was suspended from the Seanad for 20 days following a ruling by his peers decided that he had intentionally misrepresented his primary place of residence in order to claim travel expenses.

The Irish Times reports that Fianna Fáil had said that it had been considering “certain matters in the public domain concerning Senator Callely” and agreed that “this information establishes a possible prima facie case of conduct unbecoming a member of the Fianna Fáil organisation”.

# seanad-eireann - Tuesday 13 July, 2010

SENATOR IVOR CALLELY told the Seanad committee meeting hearing he put his Cork home up for sale “in the early 2000s” and at the very least has it for sale for FIVE years.

The revelation comes despite the fact that Callely relocated to the luxury pad in Kilcrohane, outside Bantry, when he lost his Dáil seat at the 2007 general election, and has lived there for the majority of time since.

Senator Alex White asked Callely to explain why he claimed overnight accommodation expenses for a house he owned, and why he presented conflicting messages as to whether his family live in Cork or Dublin.

Earlier, he launched a bizarre tirade on the other Senators who sit on the committee investigating complaints aganist his expenses claims.

Responding to an opening question from independent Senator Joe O’Toole about the fact that Callely’s Cork home is currently on the property market, Callely questioned O’Toole’s independent stance at a senator.

Callely made repeated reference to O’Toole’s “web” on which he proclaims himself an independent senator, suggesting that his voting record would suggest him to be more of an anti-Fianna Fáil senator.

The irony, evidently, of Callely’s own “web” continuing to state that he lives in Dublin North-Central was lost on him.

The meeting continues and can be viewed online.

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