Ivor Callely: currently the subject of three separate investigations into claims for mobile phones

Ivor Callely claimed 5,000 miles per month in expenses during his term as junior minister at the Department of Health even though he lived less than three miles from his office.

Callely was paid more than €87,000 in mileage payments while serving in the department between 2002 and 2004, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune.

He claimed for the 5,000 miles – the maximum allowed – even when he had been out of the country on government business, including March 2003 when he was away for at least eight days on trips to France, England, Malta and Slovakia

During May of that year, he spent seven days in the US, and once again claimed for the maximum mileage allowed. On that basis, Callely claimed for 5,000 miles over a 24-day period, the equivalent of a round trip to Belfast every single day, including weekends.

Callely is currently the subject of three separate investigations into claims for mobile phones which were submitted on receipts from a company that had ceased trading.

It was reported yesterday that the Fianna Fáil politician has sought an extra fortnight to prepare his defence ahead of an inquiry by the Seanad committee on members' interests.

Callely is also the subject of a separate investigation by his own party and has already been suspended from the Seanad over mileage claims from a holiday home in Co Cork.

Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar said: "Obviously, a junior minister would have mileage costs but this certainly sounds like it is more of the same from Callely.

"It's clear that he took advantage of every position he had to make as much as he could and his resignation is long past overdue.

"The new expenses system has cleaned up a lot of the areas that could be abused but unfortunately these controversies make it seem as if nothing has changed."

The figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune show that Callely claimed a massive €123,221 in expenses over the course of 26 months.

On one trip to New York and Washington DC, a limousine was made available to him – sometimes for more than 12 hours a day – at a cost of more than €5,000.

Four days of limousine hire in the American capital cost a total of $3,852, which included a gratuity of $489 and a further $96 in car phone charges.

Callely made frequent use of VIP lounges with bills of up to €437 run up at airports. Almost €12,000 was also paid out for limousines on his various trips abroad.

Also included in his expense claims were seven separate flights to Cork, each relating to "official business". Callely's controversial €650,000 holiday home at Kilcrohane on the Sheep's Head Peninsula is also in Co Cork.

The Fianna Fáil senator also made more than a dozen claims for dining expenses that were run up at the restaurant in Leinster House.

The claims were queried by the department whether they were in fact "personal expenditure" but were eventually paid out.

On another occasion, Senator Callely held a function for 25 people at Fadó restaurant in Dublin, which ended up costing a total of €2,257. That included a food bill of €1,312.50, a drinks bill of €739.50, and a tip for €205.20, all paid for by the taxpayer.

Callely was not available to comment on the latest expense claims, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act.