herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Greedy TDs should heed tawdry tale of chancer Callely

MANY people have a hard time in Irish politics - not too man actually do hard time.

But that's changing. This week Ivor Callely, ex-Fianna Fail TD, minister of state and senator was sentenced to five months in jail for fraudulent expense claims.

This sentence is a red letter day for democracy for this country. A crooked, scheming politician pleads guilty, is convicted and jailed for a white collar crime.

Of course he didn't plead guilty straight off. When first questioned by detectives, Callely (right) denied organising the bogus invoices and despicably attempted to lay the blame on a former business partner who had passed away.

At the time when he was dipping his fingers like a petty thief into the public purse, this greedy, venal scrounger was also trousering his senator's pay as well as travelling and accommodation expenses.

In May of 2010, it emerged that Callely claimed overnight accommodation and travel expenses for travelling between the Seanad and a house in the Sheep's Head peninsula in Co Cork. This despite having an address in Clontarf at the time.

The only censure he received for this outrageous scam was to be suspended from the Seanad for 20 days without pay.

But his greed and sense of self entitlement knew no bounds. As junior minister in 2005, he had his private house in Clontarf painted by a building firm and never paid a penny for the job.

When details of this were exposed Callely was forced to resign his ministry and go to the back benches.

To quote the words of a fellow Listowelman, the playwright John B Keane, Callely was "as greedy as a sow as a crow behind the plough".

So this week's decision to jail him represented an important day for the administration of justice in this country. For far too long the ordinary man and woman on the street have lost all confidence in the system of any white collar criminal doing the perp walk.

law

But Callely's conviction and imprisonment will do much to restore confidence in that precept that nobody is above the law in a democracy.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring is to be complimented for issuing this stark warning to all those in public life: "Politicians are not expected to cut corners and rely on an expectation of entitlement to explain misbehaviour and indeed criminal acts."

Politicians should heed this. In future, any public representative who dips into the public till can expect to share the same fate as one obnoxious, squalid and greedy chancer from Clontarf.

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