Dr James Reilly: Rush resident

Dublin-based Fine Gael health spokesman James Reilly claimed more than €32,000 – an average of €1,800 a month – for travel and subsistence despite having a home in Rush, just 18 miles from Dáil Éireann.

The former Irish Medical Organisation president also owns a house on the Offaly/ Tipperary border, but a spokesman for Fine Gael said the claims had "nothing to do with a Tipperary residence".

The claims relating to his first 18 months in the Dáil were almost twice the average of Dublin TDs for the period, and between 46% and 64% higher than other Dublin North deputies.

Reilly says that the reason for the high figure in '07/'08 is that when he first became a TD, he spent a lot of overnights in Dublin city centre, rather than travelling the 18 miles to his home in Rush, north county Dublin.

The amount which Reilly claimed for 'travel and subsistence' dropped dramatically from the end of 2008 – he claimed just €10,282 in 2009.

A spokesman for Fine Gael stressed that Reilly's "primary residence is in Rush and always has been since he was elected".

"He incurred more expenses during that period [June 2007-December 2008] and it has nothing to do with a Tipperary residence... In 2009, he made a conscious decision to get to Rush at night and he incurred less expenses from then on," the spokesman said.

The average 'travel and subsistence' claim for the period June 2007 to December 2008 for Dublin TDs was under €19,000, some €13,700 less than Reilly's claim of €32,624.

However, it should be pointed out that Reilly's base in Rush is further from the Dáil than the two Fianna Fáil TDs in the constituency, Darragh O'Brien and Micheal Kennedy, and under the old system he was in a different expenses band to them.

The spokesman for Fine Gael stressed that, unlike most Dublin TDs, Reilly was fully entitled to claim for overnights. "James was in accordance with the old regime. He was outside the exclusion zone," he said.

Reilly has been one of the big successes of the Fine Gael front bench, producing a new landmark health policy for the party and providing trenchant criticism of health minister Mary Harney.

Meanwhile, pressure was building last night on Fianna Fáil senator Ivor Callely to follow the lead of his colleague Larry Butler and resign.

The Taoiseach has already signalled that Tuesday week's Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting will hold a vote to remove the whip from Callely, without prejudice, pending the inquiry by the Seanad members' interests committee. The outcome of that vote is a foregone conclusion and there was a hope within Fianna Fáil that Callely would jump before he was pushed.

There is little sympathy for Callely's position, with one well-placed source saying that the former junior minister was "out of touch with reality".

However, calls from Labour leader Eamon Gilmore for Brian Cowen to remove Callely, on the grounds he was a Taoiseach's nominee in 2007, would appear to lack any constitutional basis. Article 18.9 of the constitution states that unless a senator dies, resigns or becomes disqualified (for bankruptcy or a jail term), he or she holds office until the next Seanad election.