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Posts Tagged ‘ TD ’

Callely To Stand Trial

File:Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland.jpg

Former junior minister and Fianna Fáil TD Ivor Callely is to stand trial over a number of allegedly bogus mobile phone expenses claims made during his time spent in the Seanad between 2007 and 2011.

Detectives from the fraud squad arrested the former politician at his home in Howth at 9.50 am this morning. He was subsequently taken to Clontarf Garda station. Callely was charged with six counts of using fraudulent instruments under Section 26 of the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Act. He has been granted bail in his own bond of €250.

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Over One Third to Boycott Household Charge

At the time of writing, more than 530,000 Irish citizens are intent on breaking the law. In an unprecedented act of defiance, a sizeable amount of Irish homeowners are planning on refraining from paying the newly-introduced Household Charge of €100. The results of a Paddy Power RedC poll conducted earlier this week indicate that 39 per cent of those eligible for the tax will not pay it.

The 61 per cent of those polled who intend to pay the charge – or have already done so – is primarily made up of older people, while almost half of those aged between 18 and 54 surveyed say they will refuse to pay.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, coalition supporters are the most likely to pay the charge; 77 per cent of Fine Gael voters and 26 per cent of Labour advocates declared they will have paid up by Saturday’s deadline. In stark contrast, 72 per cent of Sinn Féin supporters are adamant they will not pay, as are 43 per cent of Fianna Fáil voters and 44 per cent of Independent supporters. The latter takes in backers of the Socialist Party and the United Left Alliance – both political groups have been extremely vocal in their disapproval of the charge.

Of those questioned, 65 per cent said the tax was unfair, and 72 per cent said they would prefer a charge for use of services rather than a flat tax.

This latest survey will no doubt come as another blow to the under-fire government. Nevertheless, Taoiseach Enda Kenny remains optimistic that people will “measure up” and “obey the law”. He did concede, however, that: “The government can only function where it gets the cooperation and the support of the people.” Despite a late surge in those registering to pay the tax, the figure remains well shy of the 1.6 million homeowners who are liable. Even members of Kenny’s cabinet are dubious as to whether or not the majority of people will pay up before this weekend’s deadline. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar admitted it would probably take until the end of the year before those who have paid reached 80 to 90 per cent.

Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party is among those TDs who have urged house owners to boycott the tax in an act of mass revolt against austerity. He said: “This is the first time in the history of this State that such a massive movement of this kind has been crystallised in this way. It’s people power.” 

Thousands of demonstrators have attended nationwide protests against the charge, while others have called for an extension to the 31 March deadline – a suggestion Environment Minister Phil Hogan immediately shot down.

Active Retirement Ireland has said they have been inundated with calls from elderly people who are confused as to how to pay. The organisation’s CEO, Maureen Kavanagh, has criticised the government for sending out conflicting messages in relation to the charge. She said: “The problem has been around the information that was given out, particularly over the weekend, where Minister Hogan said that council officials may be calling door to door to collect the charge has led to fears of bogus callers.”

Problems with the Household Charge website have also been reported, with many people voicing their annoyance at having to make several attempts to pay the charge before it was processed correctly. Further frustration was evident when it came to light that those who live in estates with even a single property unfinished are exempt from the charge due to a loophole in the legislation. As the results of last year’s census released today show that there were 289,451 vacant dwellings in Ireland at that time, 14.5 per cent of all houses in the state, the figure of those who are ineligible to pay could be quite substantial.

On Monday Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes, said that if the government couldn’t raise the estimated €160 million from the household charge, they may have to look into raising personal taxation. Figures obtained today from the Department of the Environment show that fewer than one third of homes in Ireland have paid the charge. People who do not pay the tax will face financial penalties which will increase monthly.

Callely Freed Following Overnight Stay Behind Bars

Former junior minister Ivor Callely has been released from garda custody after a night in jail following his arrest stemming from alleged irregularities regarding mobile phone expenses he claimed from 2002 – 2006 while working as a Senator. He remains uncharged.

The former Fianna Fáil TD has previously admitted that receipts he submitted in order to claim over €2,800 were on the headed notepaper of a defunct company – Business Communications – that had ceased trading in the 1990s. He said he did not know how this had happened and subsequently withdrew the claims and refunded the money.

Solicitor Noel O’Hanrahan has claimed his client is “completely and totally innocent of any wrongdoing.” A file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Callely was arrested by fraud squad detectives at his home at St Laurence’s Road, Clontarf yesterday afternoon. Gardai searched this property, his former constituency office on the Howth Road and his holiday home in Kilcrohane, West Cork.

Suspicions regarding the claims were aroused in August 2010 when former Green Party TD Paul Gogarty made an official Garda complaint over what he saw as Mr Callely’s misuse of the expenses system. The Standards in Public Office Commission examined the claims and filed a report.

Mr Callely is no stranger to controversy – resigning the same month after becoming embroiled in a scandal when it emerged he had erroneously claimed allowances worth €81,000 over three years for living in his holiday home in Cork. He was handed a 20-day suspension from the Seanad, but the High Court subsequently overturned the order, ruling that he had not been given a chance to defend himself.

Mr Callely was first elected as a TD in Dublin North Central in 1989 and lost his seat in 2007. Between 2002 and 2005, he held junior ministries in health and transport. He quit his ministerial post in 2005 when it emerged a company involved in public contracts had painted his house for free.

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