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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 19, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    Willie’s ouster: Was it a twick or Tweet?

    Harry McGee

    There will be a lot of commentary about how Dan Boyle’s two blogs on his Twitter site on Wednesday night did for Willie O’Dea. Though new media enthusiasts will always point trimphantly to how some miracle was achieved Facebook or Twitter or whatever, all it is is  a pretty basic form of communication, with its own benefits but also with its own limits.

    The reason why it took on such resonance was that Boyle was departing from the official party line. If Twitter didn’t exist I am sure he would have found some other means (a blog, an email to a journalist, a phone call or a text) to vent his displeasure.

    It’s the message and not the medium that counts. And Boyle’s message provided a couple of uncomfortable home truths  for the Green Pary and also for Fianna Fail. The charade of a confidence motion in the Dáil on Wednesday was a disaster for both parties.

    Indeed, the approach of both parties this week (and even in the past two weeks) to Willigate was a shambles.

    The Government didn’t cop on to the potential damage it could have caused.

    Sure, the story was ignored. Everybody missed a trick on it. But when it returned to the heart of the agenda, there was no use fobbing people off asking silly diversionary questions about why has everybody ignored it for two months.

    The trouble for Willie also spelled a clear and present danger for both parties in Government.

    The clear evidence is that both were in denial about it and completely  ignored its combustive nature until it was too late.

    On Monday, the line of both Government parties was this. It was all disposed off in a court case two months ago. The matter is closed. They were also giving the (wrong) impression that the High Court had  accepted and approved O’Dea’s explanation that his swearing of the false affidavit was innocent. It had done nothing of the kind. The phrase was part of the settlement arrived at between his lawyers and Maurce Quinlivan’s lawyers. O’Dea was over a barrel and had to pay a substantial sum of money to Quinlivan for slandering him. His lawyers did well to get that “off the hook” phrase included.

    O’Dea had three problems. He had made a false and malicious allegation against Quinlivan that he was a criminal and was involved in brothel-keeping.  He swore an affidavit denying it. He apologised in Court because he had to but never apologised for the slur in public, indeed continued to repeat it even in his statemetn on Wednesday.

    The Litany of things Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his Ministers and his handlers did wrong.

    1. They didn’t realise the magnitude of the problem until it was too late

    2. They didn’t do proper research into the background of the case

    3. They resorted wholly on a line in a settlement between two parties in a  court case as if it gave Willie O’Dea a clean bill of health. It didn’t. He had made an appalling slur. He had still lied on oath.

    4. The defence of Willie throughout the week should have included an acknowledgement that what Willie had done was wrong and Cowen should have at the very least slapped him on the wrist.

    5. Nobody vetted O’Dea’s original statement to see if it would ease matters or throw more fat onto the fire. It did the latter of course.

    5. Cowen’s strategy of ordering an early no confidence debate backfired.

    6. Cowen’s own speech was terrible. No apology. No acknowledgment of any wrongdoing. An attack on Fine Gael. Totally misjudged the mood. He also allowedO’Dea to make a speech that was obscenely out of kilter with what was required.

    7.  Allowing Dermot Ahern to make nasty jibes and heckles and chortle his way through the whole debate also went down terribly.

    What Willie did Wrong

    1. He was caught bang to rights and should have been contrite from the start. Instead, he set off as if he were the victim and he was wronged.  His Sunday Independent article was a disgrace and his two statements were self-serving.

    2. His aggressive performances in the Dail.

    3. His singular failure to apologise fully for accusing a candidate of being a criminal brothel-keeper.

    4. His portrayal of himself as a victim.

    5. His allegation in the Dail that the guards told him. That opened up another can of worms for him.

    What the Greens did wrong

    1. Following he Fianna Fail party line early in the week without teasing out the impliction of the story.

    2. Not thinking its approach through. The party needed to say in public that Willie O’Dea had behaved badly but that on balance it believed him that he did not swear a false affidavit deliberately. It was a serious matter but not a resigning issue.

    3. Eamon Ryan’s performance in the confidence debate in the Dail. He rushed in at the last minute, after giving the chief whip Pat Carey a double hernia. It became clear from early on that he had no script. Instead he gave a halting speech that looked like it had been dictated to him by Fianna Fail. He could have put the whole thing into context, setting out the Greens uncomfortable position with O’Dea’s behaviour, while giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    4. The terrible optics of the party reversing its position within 24 hours and trying to justify it all under the heading of ‘newly discovered facts’.

    • JD says:

      It’s the message and not the medium that counts.

      Dead right. Some people tub-thump new media as if it was an end in itself!

      Also, while people are quick to throw the garlands around that one-line remark of Dan Boyle, I thought that the very strongly-worded article that appeared in the Times yesterday (old media, begob!) from the ex-Green councillor was a far more telling blow and must surely have spooked the hell out of the Greens in the Oireachtas that they were losing their grassroots through another episode of supine behaviour towards FF.

      Anyway, someday hopefully someone will take a principled stand and resign as soon as their position becomes compromised and we will be spared this awful prying loose of their fingers one at a time until they finally let go.

      Another sorry affair that was completely avoidable. No sympathy for any of them.

    • Graham says:

      Is there any further sanction to be applied to Willie O’Dea, considering it is now accepted that he breached section 11 of the Electoral Abuses Act, 1923 when he falsely accused Councillor Quilevan of running a brothel in the run up to the local elections? If so does anyone know what that sanction could be?
      Is it likely that the member of the Gardai who told him about this will also face sanctions?

    • Brock Landers says:

      “Tweets” Harry. Messages posted on twitter are called “tweet’s”.


    • barbera says:

      A bordello-line case to be sure — am I my brothel’s keeper, indeed!

    • paul m says:

      ah sure we’ll miss the little moustache sharp shooter. wont we?


    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      The Greens have gone past the point of no return and no amount of doublespeak will save their skins now. No matter when the election is finally called there won’t be one Green returned. Not even Dan Boyle.

      For all their guff about making changes we have seen that GUBU still rules the FF mind. Irish politics is still rotten to the core and the Greens have not done one single thing to change that – not one single achievement that makes Irish politics more honest or politicians more accountable.

      We can rest assured that in Fianna Fáil-land they won’t be giving a second’s thought to the rights and wrongs of what Willy did – it simply won’t have entered their consciousness that he did anything wrong.

      What’s the motto they abide by: party first above all else no matter what, loyalty among rascals, do anything to get power and do anything to keep it – anything.

      O’Dea will now play the martyr and victim, claim a full pension, despite the massive social problems facing Limerick, sit on the backbenches and grow more and more bitter.

      However, the odds of Enda Kenny becoming Taoiseach are shortening considerably and that can only be a good thing – one waster is gone, Coughlan and Cullen would be a good target for the next to leave.

      Or the elephant in the room the government tries to pretend doesn’t need to put out of her misery, and in the process stop inflicting it on others, ie the ultimate sell out and the most overrated and most ultimately disappointing politician there ever was: Mary Harney – I wonder how often Jack Lynch turns in his grave when he sees what she became – then again Lynch is also the man who was too weak and pathetic to gut FF of the likes of Haughey, Lenihan Snr and Doherty.

    • David says:

      No suggestion that possibly Cowen’s primary failure was not calling for O’Dea’s resignation?

    • barbera says:

      ………. Meanwhile, Enda’s No. 1 fan, Des of the hissyFitz keeps on spinning … and spinning … and spinning … dizzyFitz more like!

      But given the city that’s in it, I am surprised nobody has come up with a Limerick yet. Here’s a starter:

      A bordello-line case to be sure
      Involving a pretty cute hoor
      Brothels ‘innit’ he spat
      From de fence where he sat
      With a grin and a tickety boo

      But a hack from the press
      Tape recorder no less
      A more switched-on cute hoor we’ll not see
      Ah “good morrow”, atop o’ de fence, quoth he
      With a grin and a tickety boo

      Go on Des .. finish it.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      They say Limerick you’re a Lady
      Now O’Dea’s in line for a pension payday
      While the poor of the city
      Still aint sitting pretty

    • Chris says:

      A tweet exposed a twat! Bring on the new media! Cuts out a lot of the old guff and the blah, blah!

    • curiouser and curiouser says:

      But … but …but … what about the ladies of the night?

    • kynos says:

      What of it it’s another depthcharge spang on FF’s conning tower that’s what counts. He needs all the friends he can get and having to ask one to commit hara-kiri for a crime that isn’t weighed that heavily in FF not weighed heavily at all one imagines BIFFO’s grovelling apology to Willie in the Dáil bar after and him with his roamin’ sword sticking out of WO’D's abdomen…Could offer something after Ovid’s plaint to his faithless Corinna maybe…
      “Forgive me
      By all the gods who lend themselves
      So often to thy false oaths;
      By that ‘tache that seems to me a thing divine
      And by thine “Ayes” which have made captives of mine.”

    • barbera says:

      @ 9. HissyFitz, thee hast taken up the gauntlet! Thee hast risen to the challenge and thee hast performed well. Hence I dub thee Sir Spin-a–lot and King End-a-de-Lineheart’s knight in shining armour.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      While the tweet might have allowed Dan Boyle to break the political equivalent of the 4th wall, the issue was in some senses first noted as significant on p.ie last March when it happened and it was kept alive thereafter as it wormed its way through the courts. A few media outlets have noted that some TDs were even rehashing arguments posted on p.ie months ago.

      What makes some particular event significant is not the mere reportage but the commentary on the event and the factual reporting of it by the public and the media. The 4th estate by and large didn’t comment on this issue hence many members of the public were unaware of it ever happening. Why was that? Was it simply that we’ve grown too used to ministers and public figures playing fast and loose with the law and the facts?

    • Kyng John says:

      “Thou hast risen to the challenge and hath performed well.” shurely barbera?

    • Kynos says:

      Dan Boyle spoke from within the Green party and said This is making me nauseous and straightaway a load of other greenies said yeah us too and someone said don’t our ontological frameworks articulate against this sort of thing and others said yeah and John Gormley turned round and said there was new information and BIFFO pushed Willie onto the old gladius erectus and that’s all she wrote.

    • Sweet like Chocolate... says:

      @15 It couldn’t be could it…? Shurely (sic) not…!

    • barbera says:

      @15. As you like it, Sire, but what I scrawled, I scrawled in jest. Here’s the “Our Father” in Old English for you trouble:

      Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum
      si þin nama gehalgod tobecume þin rice gewurþe þin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum
      urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg
      and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
      and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice.

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      That Brian Cowen defends loyalty at all cost indicates the lack of depth of his thinking and the inaccuracy of his moral compass.

      Given absolute power he could truly be up there with the most terrifying depots of the past two centuries.

      He badly needs a few weeks off to stare into a mirror and take a good look at himself. Better still he needs to move to the backbenches.

      His response to the O’Dea saga is quite frightening


    • barbera says:

      @ Kynos 16. Rapier wit notwithstanding, that analysis/exegesis, whilst breathtakingly erudite, is riddled with lacunae; and whilst there may be forty shades to it, green is certainly not the only colour to be highlighted in this sorry saga, which concluded with the unfortunate falling on his own sword of a very able gladiator in the Irish political arena.

    • kynos says:

      anyway prefer Yeats’ way of thanking his unknown instructors (see Rog I got the possessive of Yeats right ahfter many’s a long year!)
      “What you undertook to do
      You have brought to pass
      All things hang like a drop of dew
      Upon a blade of grass.”
      Been awhile since I saw it. Or words to that effect annyway.

    • kynos says:

      WO’D's finding out round about now that’s true for political careers as it’s true for life an branes an all else. When the Sun comes out and shines a little light in dark places, or in Willie’s case the Limerick Leader does political careers and glittering prizes can fade away like the morning dew. But you know one thing: it’ll e back as soon as night falls again.

    • George says:

      From last night’s Frontline – Willie fights back!


    • barbera says:

      @ Kynos. For the love of God Kynos! Put the lid back on that cratur! Coffee Kynos — strong black coffee.

      @ George. That has to be the funniest thing ever ever ever ever ever on rte. Saw it last night after Frontline but great to see it again — ta/link very much. Puts the craic back in politics. Great stuff — bet even WO’D himself split the sides laughing. Oscar for short politicomedy sketch. But at the same time, why doesn’t WO’D come back? Set a new precedent why not? Forgive the politician! A little slap on the wrist exile time in Babylonia and anyone who wants to hang him better be squeaky clean ……..No? Didn’t think so — nobody there. So bienvenue chez vous Minister O’Dea.

    • barbera says:

      Attention all Blog masters! Time for remedial action. Time to install some serious anti-virus software! The Kynos virus is spreading throughout the blogosphere!! Why, even IT Outsidein’s blog has been turned Insideout by the dreaded Kynos!
      Just kidding — I love Kynos — Kynos is King!

    • Deaglán says:

      Sweet like Chocolate: You have the same email address as Blimey O’Reilly who said last night she would never contribute another comment. Glad to see you back, though

    • Deaglán says:

      Sweet like Chocolate: This is the latest of your pseudonyms. Although comments are very welcome, I am becoming increasingly unhappy with your practice of adopting multiple identities. I feel it is not conducive to proper discussion on a serious blog like this and is unfair to other contributors. You justify it on grounds of “privacy” in a “not for publication” response to my last comment. But since you are a pseudonymous persona, I fail to see there is any basis for that. Are you taking the p***?

    • Ray D says:

      Willie – Oh dear!

    • what the.. says:

      blimey o’reilly = barbera

      rambling rambling rambling

    • the handle says:

      Was it the style or the email addy gave Blimey qua Sweet away? Yirrah takes a while to develop a cognisable style whatever

    • kynos says:

      2 kind barbera thanks for the good word i like reading everyone on this site whether i like what they say or not it’s people’s opinion the only puir the giftie gie us.

    • barbera says:

      blimey o’reilly v. barbera

      Case dismissed. De minimis non curat lex:

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