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Disgraced ex-TD Callely is released early from prison

DISGRACED former politician Ivor Callely is being released from Wheatfield Prison today.

The decision to grant bail comes about three and a half months into the five-month sentence Callely (56) was handed down for fraudulently claiming €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices.

Callely has been granted bail pending his High Court action aimed at overturning the Minister for Justice's refusal to grant him temporary release from prison or decide if he is entitled to enhanced remission.

High Court President Nicholas Kearns today said the balance of justice favoured admitting the former Fianna Fail minister, TD and senator to bail, pending the outcome of his judicial review action.

The judge accepted arguments put forward by Callely's lawyers that his action would become pointless if he was not released on bail.

Risk

The judge also agreed with Callely's lawyers that he did not represent a flight risk, nor was there any risk of re-offending.

The State had opposed the bail application.

Callely was not present in court for the application. He was remanded on bail on his own bond of €100, and was expected to be released from Wheatfield Prison, where he has served the bulk of his prison sentence, sometime today.

Last month Justice Minster Frances Fitzgerald turned down Callely's application for temporary release, stating she was "of the view that the breach of trust and abuse of public funds by a member of the Oireachtas must be considered in the most serious terms".

Callely claims the minister's decision is unfair and he is not being treated the same as other prisoners, who have committed more serious crimes.

The minister, he claims, has been unfairly influenced by his high profile, and the prospect of an adverse public reaction of the early release of a former politician.

Callely last week secured permission from the High Court to bring judicial review proceedings in a bid to quash the decision.

Behaviour

Callely also sought orders including one directing the minister to reconsider his application for temporary release and make a decision if he is entitled to one third remission from his sentence for good behaviour.

In a sworn statement grounding his judicial review action, Callely said he has been told by staff at Wheatfield Prison, he should not be in prison and is only being kept there because of his high profile.

He also claims while the minister refused his request for temporary release she has granted temporary release from prison to a former councillor who was a member of the same political party as Minister Fitzgerald.

Callely served as a TD for Dublin North Central and as a junior minister in the Fianna Fail government for traffic management and later for road haulage.

After he lost his seat in the 2007 general election he was appointed to the Seanad by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

hnews@herald.ie


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