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Monday 5 December 2016

'It's been a difficult time', says Ivor as minister seeks report on politician's early release

Ivor Callely claims he is not being treated fairly by the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Ivor Callely claims he is not being treated fairly by the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Former politician Ivor Callely has described his prison sentence and current court case regarding his enhanced remission refusal as "a difficult time".

He said people will know the full set of circumstances in "due course" after the High Court found that the Minister for Justice "fell into error" over her refusal to grant the former Senator enhanced remission from the prison sentence he had been serving for fraudulently claiming Oireachtas expenses.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr found it appeared Minister Frances Fitzgerald had failed to take all relevant matters into account, which she is obliged to do, when making her decision.

The judge quashed the refusal to grant him enhanced remission and ruled the application should go back to the Minister for reconsideration.

Dismissed

Had his challenge been dismissed, Mr Callely, who was present in court for the judgement, faced returning to prison for six days to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Speaking outside the court, the disgraced politician described how it has been a turbulent period for him.

"Yes, it has been a difficult time and, as you are aware, the matter is back before the courts later this month," he said.

"There are a whole lot of circumstances and people will know the full set in due course."

When asked if he was sorry for claiming mobile phone expenses fraudulently in excess of €4,000, he stated that "all of that has been dealt with by way of apology and repayment".

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has asked the Prison Service for a report on the judge's ruling.

"Obviously, I've been speaking to the director of the Prison Service today and we will have to analyse that judgment. I've asked for a report on it," Ms Fitzgerald said.

She added that "precisely what that might or might not be will be determined by our assessment of the court and our response to it".

Mr Callely had been on bail on his own bond of €100 pending the outcome of the legal challenge to the decision of the Minister and the Governor of Wheatfield Prison in Dublin not to grant him remission or temporary release.

The State parties denied the claims and opposed the action.

He brought proceedings over the refusals to grant him enhanced remission and temporary release from a five-month prison sentence he received last July after he admitted he fraudulently claimed €4,207.45 in expenses through forged mobile phone invoices.

He claimed he was entitled to one third remission of his sentence, as opposed to the normal one quarter, because he demonstrated good behaviour by participating in structured prison activities, and was unlikely to re-offend.

He said the Minister's refusal of temporary release or extra remission was unfair, and he wasn't being treated the same as other prisoners who have committed more serious crimes.

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