Cash car: Ivor Callely claimed over €53,000 for mileage in just 14 months

ANOTHER suspect claim for mileage of almost €3,000 made by controversial senator Ivor Callely has been uncovered.

Callely took advantage of a junior ministerial transfer to wrongly claim at the maximum mileage rate twice in a year.

Under the rules of the time, politicians could claw back the first 4,000 miles they travelled each year at a higher rate per mile of €1.29. However, that meant all subsequent mileage could only be claimed at the far less profitable rate of 60 cent per mile. In October 2004, Callely was transferred to the Department of Transport from the Department of Health as part of a government reshuffle.

Safely ensconced in his new job, the controversial senator elected to claim the first 4,000 miles at the higher rate for the second time that year. By that stage, the mileage rate had actually risen even further, to €1.40 for the first 4,000 miles and 65 cent for the remainder.

Callely's expense claims – copies of which were released under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act – show that he took advantage of the increased allowance twice. The double-claim at the higher rate of mileage cost an extra €2,988.50, an investigation by the Sunday Tribune has revealed.

In January, Callely made his original claim for the 4,000 miles at the higher rate and 1,000 miles at the lower rate yielding a return of €5,799 that month. That October, the then junior minister did the same thing again, and with the higher rates now applying, drew down €6,238.30.

The payment he should have got – and the amount he received in subsequent months – was significantly lower at €3,250.

When contacted first, the Department of Transport said there had been no overpayment of expenses in this case and that the claims were in order.

However, when contacted with further details by the Sunday Tribune, it confirmed the matter was now "being pursued".

A statement said: "We have reviewed our records and we can confirm that Senator Callely was registered as [a] new user on our travel system on his arrival into the department. As such, [he] was paid for his first 4,000 miles claimed for, at an incorrect rate. This gave rise to an overpayment and the matter is being pursued by the department."

It is understood the department will now be seeking a refund from Callely for the second time in less than a month.

In 2005, Callely also made two separate claims for a single month, which resulted in an overpayment of more than €3,200. The discrepancy only came to light following an FoI request.

Throughout his time as a junior minister, Callely almost invariably claimed the maximum allowable 5,000 miles every month. This covered the travel he undertook attending "various meetings and functions in Dublin city and county on behalf of the department and constituency".

It also covered any official business Callely would have conducted outside of the capital, including engagements in Cork.

In total, during just 14 months at the Department of Transport, the then junior minister claimed €53,601.48 tax-free, just for mileage claims. More than €6,000 of that will now have to be refunded.

Mileage claims worth €80,000 made from a holiday home in Co Cork whilst serving as a senator marked the beginning of controversy over his expenses earlier this year.

Judgment has been reserved in a legal action by Callely against the Senate over its decision to suspend him for 20 days.

Callely is also under investigation for submitting claims for mobile phone expenses on headed paper from a company that had gone out of business.