FORMER minister Ivor Callely has enjoyed a taxpayer-funded pension package of almost €380,000 since he left politics in disgrace in 2011.
The convicted fraudster was entitled to a €158,539 tax-free lump sum at the end of his political career in 2011.
And he still benefits from pension payments for his time as a corrupt TD, minister and senator, which to date have totalled almost €230,000.
Despite the fact that he is now a convicted criminal, there are no laws stopping him from drawing down his massive pension payments, at the expense of the State and the taxpayer.
Callely was a TD from 1989 to 2007, when he lost his seat in the General Election. But he was thrown a lifeline by Bertie Ahern when he was then appointed as a senator.
Despite the numerous controversies surrounding him and his expulsion from Fianna Fail, he remained until the end of the last Government in 2011.
Figures obtained by the Herald showed that he will receive €47,082 in pension payments from the Oireachtas this year alone, while he received €49,137 in 2013.
But Callely also served in two junior ministerial portfolios from 2002 to 2005, first in the Department of Health and then the Department of Transport.
For this, he also has an additional ministerial pension entitlement, which came in at €14,746 last year.
It means that criminal Callely has received about €220,000 in pension payments since leaving politics and will continue to be paid a pension for years to come.
Yesterday, he walked away a free man after he was granted bail pending his High Court action aimed at overturning a refusal to grant him temporary release from prison.
High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said the balance of justice favoured admitting the former FF politician to bail, pending the outcome of his judicial review action against the Minister for Justice and the Governor of Wheatfield Prison over a refusal to grant him either temporary release or enhanced remission. The judge accepted arguments from Callely's lawyers that his judicial review would become pointless if he was not granted bail. The judge also agreed with Callely's lawyers he has been a model prisoner, did not represent a flight risk, or was at risk of re-offending.
The case, he said, raised some "important legal issues, ,particularly the issue concerning prisoner's entitlement to enhanced remission of up to one-third of their sentences for good behaviour.
Given the importance of these matters, the judge said the action should be heard as soon as possible, and would be given priority by the court.
At 3pm, Callely was brought from a building within the Four Courts to a waiting prison van.
Wearing a dark blue suit, a light blue shirt, and a green and blue striped tie, he looked fit and healthy. Clutching documents in his left hand, his right hand was chained to that of a prison officer.
The Herald asked Callely for comment on being granted bail and his time in prison, but he declined to comment as he was put into the back of the van and driven away.
The former junior minister briefly returned to prison to have his bail application processed. Callely arrived at Wheatfield Prison at around 3.30pm. He was then picked up at 4.30pm by a man and woman in a red Toyota Corolla.
Callely (56) was jailed last July after admitting he fraudulently claimed €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices. He was sentenced to a total of five months in prison.
He was not present in court yesterday for the bail application. He was granted bail on his own bond of €100 which was to be entered into before the prison governor.
Kieran Kelly, for Callely, said as his client is entitled to a third remission he would already be out of prison.
If the normal one quarter remission is applied, his release date is November 18 next.
If he was denied bail, and should he win his case, counsel said his client would "not be able to get back those extra days spent in prison".
If bail was granted, and his judicial review action was unsuccessful, counsel said, his client would return to prison to serve out the remaining days of his sentence.
In a sworn statement, Callely's solicitor Padraig O'Donovan said there was "no prejudice" to anyone if bail was granted.
His client knows he would have to serve out any outstanding period of imprisonment if his case fails.
While on bail, he will reside with a relative in Raheny and will comply with any conditions deemed necessary.
The State, represented by John Fitzgerald, opposed the bail application. Counsel said Callely was being held "on a valid order of detention".
Any decision by the minister to grant temporary release or enhanced remission was discretionary, he said.
Last month, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald turned down Callely's application for temporary release.
She said she was "of the view the breach of trust and abuse of public funds by a member of the Oireachtas must be considered in the most serious terms".
He claimed the minister's decision is unfair and he is not being treated the same as other prisoners.