Minister's position was 'untenable' - Quinlivan

Fri, Feb 19, 2010, 00:00

COUNCILLOR'S REACTION:WELCOMING THE resignation of Willie O’Dea, Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan said it brought an end to a “sorry saga” that had been very stressful for himself and his family.

“I’m pleased the Minister finally resigned and brought this sorry saga to an end,” he told The Irish Times last night.

“It has been a stressful year for me and my family. I think the Minister’s resignation finally puts to bed the allegations that were floating around about me.

“The Minister’s position had become untenable and, in my opinion, it was simply not acceptable for a Cabinet Minister to engage in a smear campaign of the nature of the one he did against myself.

“But I also think he should have resigned because he failed Limerick. We have 22,000 people on the Live Register, we have a stalled regeneration programme, and we need a Minister who will deliver, not promise,” Mr Quinlivan said.

Earlier, on Pat Kenny’s radio programme yesterday morning, Mr Quinlivan said he was aware during last June’s local elections that Mr O’Dea and “certain canvassers” were making allegations about him.

“There was nothing I could do to counteract it, but when the Minister then came out, shall we say, and made [the allegations] to the Limerick Leader, then I felt I could act.

“That was the first time and I acted pretty much straight away, within 10 days, with the legal processes on the go against the Minister.”

However, Mr O’Dea denied on RTÉ’s News at One yesterday that he or his canvassers had spread rumours about Mr Quinlivan on the doorsteps.

Asked about Mr O’Dea’s claim that he heard the false allegation about the use of the apartment as a brothel from the Garda, he replied: “The Minister’s stories keep changing and changing and bits get added into it.

“The Minister makes a claim that the gardaí started off the whole process. That’s something I would like the gardaí to clarify.”

He initially sought an injunction against the Minister in April but failed, because of the “patently false” affidavit from Mr O’Dea.

“I come from a decent family, my parents are elderly, my wife was quite upset.”

However, the tape of the Minister’s interview subsequently came to light and, on August 11th, Mr O’Dea’s barristers contacted his own legal team about it.

“I am really pleased that tape came to light because the case would still be ongoing,” Mr Quinlivan said.

A settlement was reached on December 21st. The affidavit was withdrawn as part of the settlement: “The Minister unreservedly apologised to me. He also withdrew the defamatory statements. He accepted, in his words, that I was ‘a person of exemplary character’, he withdrew the misleading affidavit, he paid me damages and he discharged my legal costs, so I settled the defamation case on that basis.”

Meanwhile, the editor of the Limerick Leader newspaper said his publication was also threatened with legal action by Mr Quinlivan and this had created a “complicated” situation.

Alan English told News at One yesterday that, when he came into possession of the Minister’s affidavit in late April, he had tried to contact Mr O’Dea but was unsuccessful in arranging an early meeting.

“I did leave it go. This was a story that has been an incredibly slow burner,” he told interviewer Seán O’Rourke.

He continued: “We were ourselves the subject of legal proceedings at the time so the situation was that the Limerick Leader had been threatened with legal action by Maurice Quinlivan as well, so the situation was complicated by that.”

Explaining why he had failed to make contact with the Minister between April and July, Mr English said: “I initially made an appointment to meet him. That never happened.

“He was unavailable – it was a Friday night. I let it go at that stage. I was probably remiss in not bringing it to his attention quicker than that.”

Mr English said there had been a claim that Mr O’Dea had asked him to destroy the tape of the interview: “That is absolutely not the case.”