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Callely in legal action over newspaper reports of property ownership

The former senator is seeking legal action against the publishers of the Irish Independent and the Irish Mail on Sunday.

Image: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

FORMER SENATOR Ivor Callely has initiated legal action against the publishers of the Irish Independent, the Irish Daily Mail and the Irish Mail on Sunday over reports on his property ownership.

The former Fianna Fáil junior minister, who resigned the party whip in 2010 after controversy over his Seanad travel expenses, is suing Independent Newspapers and Associated Newspapers.

The case is understood to relate to coverage in the three newspapers about Callely’s property holdings and his filings in the Oireachtas register of members’ interests.

The reports, from August 2010, revealed that Callely had interests in at least seven properties which he had not declared in his annual disclosure of members’ interests, which also requires TDs and Senators to disclose details of their shareholdings and company directorships.

The dispute centres on whether Callely was required to disclose his interests in those properties on the Oireachtas register.

The former senator is understood to argue that the papers wrongly suggested he had not disclosed them, when he was not obliged to declare them.

The Seanad’s Select Committee on Members’ Interests investigated the matter in September 2010, on foot of the newspaper reports, and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

In its written statement of findings, the committee said it accepted that the properties were not owned by Callely himself, but instead by members of his family. The committee’s hearings and deliberations were held in private, however.

Sources within Independent News and Media, the parent company of Independent Newspapers which publishes the Irish Independent, and Associated Newspapers which publishes the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday, said both publishers planned to submit full defences.

One source indicated that the matter was likely to proceed to a full jury trial later this year.

Spokespersons for Callely were unavailable for comment by the time of publication.

Read: Callely win could land taxpayer with €500k legal bill >

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Gavan Reilly

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