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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 17, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    Was Willie O’Dea’s behaviour “anything other than innocent”?

    Harry McGee

    If we take everything that Willie O’Dea has said about what happened later as gospel, his original smear of Maurice Quinlivan was still a disgrace, and its clear suggestion and innuendo that he was connected with a brothel.

    His quote: “I suppose I am going a bit too far when I say this but I’d like to ask Mr Quinlivan is the brothel still closed?”

    When Quinlivan sought an injunction to restrain O’Dea from repeating the defamatory remarks, O’Dea denied “most categorically and emphatically” that he was referring to Quinlivan. As a point of fact, Quinlivan’s brother, Nessan Quinlivan, owned the apartment in question. Nessan Quinlivan was completely unaware that his tenants, Brazlilian nationals, were operating a brothel from the premises. It was clear, even from the straightest reading of the above statement, that O’Dea was deliberately throwing dirt (and nasty dirt) at Maurice Quinlivan, trying to make him guilty by association with his brother.

    It must also be remembered that O’Dea was responding to a quite legitimate political criticism made by Mr Quinlivan of the cost of the six civil servants employed by the Minister to do work on constituency matters. O’Dea had a legitimate defence to that but instead chose to try to blacken the good name of his opponent.

    In his affidavit, O’Dea described as a “serious allegation” Quinlivan’s asserting that O’Dea was “obviously going around town trying to slander me… and involved in every kind of dirty trick”.

    O’Dea claimed that it was unfounded and that Quinlivan did not have a “shred of evidence”.

    When the recordings were produced, it was clear that Quinlivan did indeed have a shred of evidence and way more than that. O’Dea was indeed  involved in dirty tricks, suggesting to the journalist that Quinlivan was associated with the brothel.

    The recordings revealed that in his interview with journlalist Mike Dwane, O’Dea went futher than the quoted remark and suggested to Dwane that Quinlivan owned the apartment along with his brother.

    “Do you know the brothel they found in his name and in his brother’s name down in Clancy Strand?… Did you not hear that? You better check with your sources. There was a house owned byhim that was rented out and they found two ladies of the night operating in there in the last couple of weeks.”

    O’Dea said he could not remember making the remarks about Quinlavin’s interest in the brothel until the tape was produced, thus jogging his memory. He admitted the affidavit from April was false. He claimed that his mistake was innocent.

    However, an important point here is that it was a separate case to the injunction case the previous April. There was also a different judge.

    The parties arrived at a settlement on the steps of the Court. The text of the setttlement included the line about the false affidavit: “It is not suggested by Mr Quinlivan that Mr O’Dea acted other than innocently in making such denial.”

    It was a settlement. The Government and the Greens have leaned heavily on the above quote to suggest that it was a High Court approval. Yes it was, but the judge made no adjudication on the affidavit. He was told that the parties had settled, received the text, and approved it. He would not have examined the truth or otherwise of the affidavit unless one of the parties brought it up. Of course, they didn’t. Maurice Quinlivan had been awarded costs and damages, which remain undisclosed.

    Even if we accept Willie O’Dea could not remember making such a serious allegation, the original smear was awful. Downright awful. What a nasty thing to say. What dirty tricks.


    As expected Government won confidence vote by 80 to 69 with all the Greens supporting the Government.  Eamon Ryan made a very weak speech where he just recited the chronology of events. He looked very uncomfortable, squirmed in his seat. The words ‘liar’ and ‘perjury’ were thrown around like confetti by the opposition. Joan Burton had the most effective moment when she read the conversation betwee the journalist Mike Dwane and Willie O’Dea into the record, as if she were reading a film script.

    Willie didn’t apologise. He said he made a mistake. Hadn’t realised he had gone so far. He also admitted that the gardai had told the allegations to him. This point was picked up  by Brian Hayes. He had never stated this in public before, why not? he askedO’Dea in the Dail. Because they were wrong, admittedO’Dea. But this showed a very clear recollection of an allegation he previously said he had forgotten about.

    What was most disgraceful about O’Dea’s defence wasn’t his attempts to divert attention by making irrelevant claims about Fine Gael from way in the past, and about Arthur Morgan and Liam Adams. It wasn’t his dishonest spin on the outcome of the libel case, and his presentation of a settlement between both sides as some kind of Court ruling or decision. The judge made no evaluation on the affidavit, good, bad or indifferent.

    What was most disgraceful is that over two days in the Dáil, he has not apologised to Quinlivan for the slur he made on his good name. In fact, today he compounded the smear by trying to justify his defamatory remark. He said owned by Quinlivan’s brother, Nessan Quinlivan, whom O’Dea described for no reason as a Brixton escapee. Thus he again tried to make MauriceQuinlivan guilty by association.

    • Richard says:

      For all the rest of us mortals, we would not have a second chance if we had lied in the High Court. I suspect that if my employer found out that I had lied in the High Court for any reason I might find myself out of a job never mind a Ministerial Job. Cowan should show that he has some teeth here. It would make a change.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      What justification is there for Willie O’Dea to have 6 civil servants doing his constituency work. There is no justification for any Minister having civil servants doing their constituency work at all. A study of what those people actually do ie how much time and money they waste writing from one department to another, would show that.

      Secondly, Willie has nothing to fear from a confidence vote because his colleagues are intellectually incapable of displaying an ounce of integrity or accountability. It is as much impossible for the likes of O’Dea or Dermot Ahern to understand why they are not fit for public office, as it is to expect a 4 year old child to explain the finer poitns of quantum physics.

      The only way someone resigns in FF is when the heat gets so bad it risks drawing others in and then you won’t see a sign of the much vaulted FF loyalty.

      There is only one way for people like Willie and others to be held to account and it’s for those who vote for him to be asked to explain how exactly they come to the conclusion that he is the best Limerick has to offer when Limerick city is one of the worst eyesores in the entire country with some of the worst social neglect and yet I bet the very people whose interests are ignored by the likes of Fiddly’s are the very people who go and vote for him.

      Are people in Limerick especially dim to not make the connection between the conditions they live in and the type of FF politician’s they elect.

      However, even though the FG motion is dooomed and the Greens will of course not show up, the point has to be made and it has to be put on the Dáil record and we can only hope that FG and Labour politicians in Limerick have the guts to start asking Limerick people to put their brain in gear before they vote and to start holding those who vote FF to account for what they’ve done.

      O’Dea is one of the more unpleasant members of his party. Like a cornered rat he will now lash out – expect his Sunday column to be even more one sided than usual.

      What Fine Gael should do is withdraw all pairing from him and swamp his office with freedom of information requests for what the cicil servants doing his crony work actually do and keep up the pressure that way and to put down question after question on every aspect of the defence department.

    • Mark says:

      Great post. Would love to see something similar in the paper.

    • El Leader Maximo says:

      Smear ? dirty tricks ? perjury ? misleading the Dail ?

      Shurely some mistake Harry – it couldn’t possibly be Fianna Fail could it ? What a turn up for the books.

    • JD says:

      Would a British Cabinent Minister need one day or two to clear out his office after being found to have pulled a dirty trick like this, never mind the far more serious possibility that a barrister and legislator has perjured himself?

      Still, Fianna Fail were ever thus and who in their right mind would ever vote for them? It is the Greens’ continued stay in government that really disgusts me. They always struck me as naive but earnest. Now they are just jellyfish playing make-believe at governing the country as they sink ever deeper into the ooze.

    • robespierre says:

      It impacted the first hearing so the original “error” blackened the name of a civilian and political opponent. It is equally important to note that O’Dea could have acted at any stage in the 8 months up to last December to remedy the situation and did not.

      Are those the actions of a contrite man or did he only fully realise what was on the line as he was going into a court of law. The possible loss of his ministry and a potential delisting as an officer of the court.

      If you read the SIPO terms of reference for ministers and ethics legislation there really is very little room here for O’Dea. I think he’ll get away with it unfortunately but that clause was clearly slipped in by a forward thinking individual as a “get out of jail card” … so to speak.

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      I thought the banana republic I had left under CJ was no more but this beggars belief. If Brian Cowen does not fire Willie O’Dea I just give up.

      Brian Cowen knows what he is doing is immoral. He knows well the limitations of his strict adherence to “loyalty”. The current obsession with backing his man Willie is not loyalty: it is the inability of a leader to take action even when the whole country is watching. If this is ‘loyalty” Brian Cowen it will not only be the undoing of your political future but the undoing of you as a person.

      Stand back and take a real look at just where you stand on this. Are you proud?

      Patrick Hennessy

      Bangkok (who you had breakfast alone with on 3rd Avenue NYC in September 2003 in John’s diner on 3rd Avenue and 42nd when you there there for a UN General Assembly meeting as MFA)

    • kynos says:

      O I’ll treat Willie’s “diplomatic assurances” with the same weight as all others received from BUSHCO and its lackeys. Amongst which I include Willie.

    • barbera says:

      If “ladies of the night” were entertaining guests in a property in a street, surely the very chihuahuas in that street would know about it. Don’t landlords have ears like the rest of us? When was politics not about closet-excavation and skeleton slinging? The crime is to get caught. Getting caught by entrapment (budding journalist + tape recorder) = oldest trick in the book/should have gone to specsavers. My sympathies lie with the ladies of the night – sweet lost angels.

    • Kynos says:

      ANd thus we see yet again how FF regard oaths as empty formulas.

    • Kynos says:

      If these guys weren’t politiciians weren’t famous like and yet you knew all about them that you know ask yourself the question would I avail of the scrappage scheme with them? Never mind would I BUY a used car from them would I GIVE them one? So. Do you value your vote less than some old banger? It took a lot of BANGS. And BOOMS and KA-pows and AARRGGHHS and boo-hoos and silences to win you that vote.

    • Kynos says:

      Many would answer (if many were reading) that that’s the reason why their grandparents and parents voted FF and that’s why they do too. Fair enough. So then ask yourself how would all this stack up on deV’s navel as he contemplated it in the bath an Irishman in the drink searching within his own heart for what Ireland wanted? What would the Long Fellow think? Of where FF have delivered themselves and Ireland? Don’t like him? OK what would Jack Lynch think? Whatever. Whoever. What would your grandparents think? Ask yourself that question in 6 months time and again in 2012.

    • Kynos says:

      Ain’t about ladies of the night barbera. Ain’t even about whether a politician can even be trusted to tell the truth on oath. Is now about FF’s attitude to oaths in general, and we know the genesis of this party is based on the swearing of oaths while keeping their fingers x’d behind their backs and getting dodgy support from Maynooth in the process. Some people will think that’s a great way to run a party. Cuts through all sorts of red tape and gets things done. I’ll not bother such people with talk about karma only to mention it the once. So. FF have no regard for oaths. That much seems clear. So. For a start, how dare they turn to the Garda Siochana and start threatening them should they strike and break their own oaths?

    • Elaine says:

      excellent analysis Harry. What, I wonder, is the editoral tone of Limerick Live 95fm and Limerick Leader to all this.

    • kynos says:

      It was an excellent post Harry.

    • kynos says:

      He’s been caught rotten giving someone the stab. Nasty. Maybe that photo of him waving a Glock or som no it was H&K 9mm at the camera wearing a coat that made him look a bit like an East End gangster scared me over me Alpen one morning for reasons other than that he was figuratively stickin a shooter in my face. Got a horrible shiver from that I did. Brilliant photography. Class.

    • kynos says:

      It’s that old acid test isn’t it? Never do or say anything you wouldn’t want appearing in the newspapers try to observe it always myself.

    • tony says:

      I have just looked at RTE news. They are cock-a-hoop that the Dail vote has been won and that is the end of the affair. That to me is outrageous.

    • Simon in New York says:

      Harry, can you say something about the “discussion” between Gormley and Ryan outside the chamber just before Ryan spoke?

    • kenneth says:

      listening to the taoiseach and minister ryan trying to justfy o’dea acting in a personal role was a sad day and it shows whats become the norm in politics. Listening to o’dea trying to defend what he did, just made me want to get sick.The country is in the state it is ’cause that’s the sort of standards that ff have, no accountability, no responsibility and everyone of them is in it up to their eyes, that their going to every length and low, to hide the real stuff they pulled. A closed banking enquiry says it all and when one of them get caught the others are backing each other up.They have no mandate to carry on like this, shame on them

    • Ray D says:

      Green Party have no standards. That is clear though I accept that it is tough to have high standards here. I note too that Willie now blames the guards. Did he ask the guards – as the boss- if they had any mud to throw.

    • JerryF says:

      O’Dea’s behaviour is troubling indeed, but equally appalling is that he was attempting to trash a political opponent unfairly and falsely. O’Dea was subverting and perverting the political process.

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      If you insist on reducing what I write to anodyne platitudes, what is Ms o’shokezny going to do for material?
      Septimus O’Shaughnessy, is the latent homosexual/alter ego of the ‘Egotesticle’ Norman Mailer,scourge of feminists and womens libbers everywhere. Ironic given barb.ie’s well documented views on the Sin of Sodom…I’m sure the hair shirt flatters you barb but I am not flattered by your ‘cribbing’!

    • Michael says:

      There goes Patrick Hennessy of Bangkok again licking up to FF by giving them credit for running a banana republic. Such offensiveness to bananas is unacceptable. It should be kind to banana week or month or year.

      Glad to see the green (small g) wrestling with their consciences again and sticking with the Mercs and Perks. Could be a suitable name for relabelling their party. What offers for a few rusty bikes and crash helmets ?

    • Gerry says:

      Every person applying for benefits must sign a statement which warns them of the consequences of making or giving false information. Apparently the standard required of FF and Green Ministers is not as high as for ordinary people.
      The Dail has now been dragged utterly into the gutter and our politicians should hang their heads in shame. The dail is now an utterly morally bankrupt institution, its memebers motivated only by greed.

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      @24 Like the ‘banana bunch’ quip tres amusant!

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      me@23 Before the writs start flyin’…That shoulda been the latent homosexual/alter ego of one of Norm’s character’s! Aaarghhh!

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      If prove were ever needed that the legacy of GUBU still controls Fianna Fáil they have it now.

      It would be astounding to find out a cabinet minister used the gardai to obtain dirt he could then use against a political rival, if that cabinet minister wasn’t a member of Fianna Fáil.

      We can only wait in dread as to what the new cabinet ministers in the next government uncover when they take over – de ja vu from when Fine Gael/Labour took over in 1982.

    • barbera says:

      @ 23 & 27 Mais qu’est-ce que tu as aujourd’hui ma petite ‘blog megalomanic’? C’est pas normal! Mais enfin! Je crois que tu n’as pas donc aucun sens commun? “Pinky and the brain” cartoon comes to mind. Poor brain could never succeed at world domination.
      Meanwhile back to the topic — Politics and dirty tricks. It seems now even George Lee is accusing FG of a dirty tricks campaign against him – as we speak. I dunno, it make me wonder are the opposition that desperate that they have to continuously be trying to put somebody down to make themselves look good?

    • barbera says:

      PS. I mean it’s like throwing a hungry political party (FG at the moment) a bit of plain flour (for example, O’Dea vs Quinlavin) and they’ll try to make five thousand loaves out of it. It’s all so fishy.

    • alan says:

      It has been alleged that Willie O’Dea committed perjury. Should the matter not be reported to An Garda Siochana for their investigation and following that the Director of Public Prosecutions be asked to determine whether Willie O’Dea should be prosecuted for committing this offence. If the DPP find that there is evidence to mount a prosecution, he should then be prosecuted and be tried by a Judge and Jury as his constitutional right like any other citizen and not by Deputies Kenny and Gilmore.

      If Joe Soap was a witness in a trial and committed perjury the trial judge would refer the matter to the DPP and the Gardai for investigation.

      If a member of An Garda Siochana committed perjury, he or she would would almost definitely be prosecuted and tried before a Judge and Jury.

      So why not Willie O’Dea? Why is he so different?

      Willie O’Dea is a trained solicitor and should know the importance of sworn affidavits.

      I believe that this matter should be referred to the DPP and if Willie O’Dea is to be prosecuted for perjury or any breach of Electoral Acts he should be prosecuted before a Judge and Jury as is his constitutional right.

      In the interim he should step aside form his office while any such investigation is ongoing. He should do this of his own volition and should not have to be pushed.


    • Ray D says:

      The only thing that distinquishes parties like the PDs and the Greens from the other parties is that they pitch their moral tones at a very high level while, in fact, their moral standards are pitched at a very low level. What O’ Dea did others in the Oireachtas would do happily all the time.

    • barbera says:

      Attention! Mlle Blimey! — What you are essaying to do may fall into the same boorish smear innuendo category as that which is being rebuked here. My problem with your interjections (which I have previously alluded to elsewhere) is that invariable after one of my posts you interject with some smutty sexual innuendo. So in the interests of staying with the topic … and world peace, I am proposing that we ignore each other.

    • LPV says:

      I thought I would never see the day. Someone has resigned in the Dail for behaviour which in normal life would be considered unacceptable. Albeit it took a hell of a push. But its a start. Maybe the next resignation will be for incompetence. Here’s hoping. There are no shortage of candidates.

    • colly tyrone says:

      very clever of the shinners me thinks.having a guard to feed false information. to the minister,nice one gerry.

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      Barb.ie I can only assume you have reached that age (judging from your musical taste) where you are no longer fully in possession of your faculties. At least that is the publishable version.
      In case it’s escaped your homophobic crawthumping evangelical sychophantic plagiaristic sexually repressed delusional psyche I have no and never have had any interest in communicating with you.
      I have responded when necessary, after some desperate attempt on your part to gain some vicarious attention, you write something provocative directed at me.
      You are just not INTERESTING to me or anyone else apparently, as the lack of engagement by anyone other than Declan shows, but he always stands up for the lame ducks.
      Enjoy your Lenten abstinence seems to be the highlight of your life, tho’ what you have to abstain from I can’t imagine.
      Deaglan/Harry if you are going to post swipes at me then I think I am entitled to respond in kind.

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      @33 In the interests of Entente I would just like to pass on my last hurrah to your resident homophobe, in the words of Msr Le President ‘Casse toi pauvre gros con’ !;-)

    • maire.t says:

      can someone tell me. did willie o’dea just blurt this out without thinking of what might happen if mr quinliven ever found out what was said.
      can someone tell me was there a brothel of any kind was there a house of ill repute or was there ever a hint of a brothel at this address.
      i think it is a strange story very strange i think there is more to it than meets the eye

    • JerryF says:

      Having resigned as Defence Minister, O’Dea should now leave the Dail and go home.

    • barbera says:

      @35 and @ 38
      Hmmmm, none of this will be pursued, of course, since it is FF hunting season at the moment and all the hacks from Grub Street are otherwise occupied.

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