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Jailed Ivor Callely launches legal bid for release

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JAILED: Former Fianna Fail junior minister Ivor Callely was sentenced to five months in prison for fraudulently claiming mobile phone expenses. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

JAILED: Former Fianna Fail junior minister Ivor Callely was sentenced to five months in prison for fraudulently claiming mobile phone expenses. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

JAILED: Former Fianna Fail junior minister Ivor Callely was sentenced to five months in prison for fraudulently claiming mobile phone expenses. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

JAILED former politician Ivor Callely wants the High Court to overturn Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's refusal to grant him temporary release or enhanced remission.

Callely (56) was jailed last July after it was found he fraudulently claimed €4,207.45 in expenses from the Oireachtas on forged mobile phone invoices.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five months by Judge Mary Ellen Ring.

He began serving the sentence in Mountjoy Prison before being transferred to Wheatfield.

unfair

Ms Justice Mary Faherty yesterday granted lawyers for Callely leave to have the minister's refusal judicially reviewed.

The court heard Callely is a model prisoner and had applied for, but was refused, temporary release.

Refusing the application on October 28, the minister said 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 and Mr Callely is not considered suitable for temporary release at this stage of his sentence".

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. He says the decision flies in the face of reason or common sense.

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

The minister's judgment, he argues, has been clouded as she has afforded a special significance to the offences based solely on Mr Callely's profession and the origins of the funds.

Mr Callely said he has been told by prison staff that he should not be in jail and is only being kept there because of his high profile. He also said the minister had turned down his request despite the fact she granted temporary release to a former Fine Gael councillor, a member of her political party.

Kieran Kelly BL, for Callely, said his client met all the criteria entitling him to temporary release.

These included that he was sentenced as a first-time offender for a non-violent crime. He was sorry for what he did, had repaid the money and did not pose a threat to society.

entitled

Judge Ring in imposing the sentence had stated that the fact a former member of the Oireachtas got a custodial sentence was more important than the length of the sentence and this, counsel said, should also have been taken into consideration.

Counsel said if his client is granted one-third remission, as compared with the normal one-quarter, he would be entitled to immediate release.

The action is against the minister and the governor of Wheatfield Prison.

The case comes back before the court next week.

hnews@herald.ie


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