O'Dea faces Dáil motion of no confidence


FINE GAEL leader Enda Kenny has notified the Dáil of his intention to introduce a motion of no confidence in Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea, following the Minister’s explanation about a sworn statement he made to the High Court, which he later accepted was untrue.

Mr Kenny said there were “serious questions arising from this” after Mr O’Dea’s personal explanation to the Dáil about the case. The Minister said “unfounded allegations” had been made against him in recent days as well as “ill-informed, unfounded and mischievous comment”.

Mr O’Dea said that to attempt to open a case that had been resolved in court “for political advantage while at the same time professing respect for the integrity of the courts is hypocritical to put it at the very least”.

Labour justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte later challenged the Green Party leader John Gormley to “revert to his formerly high moral stance” when the motion of no confidence is voted on.

Mr Rabbitte also described Mr O’Dea’s statement as “pathetically self-exculpatory” and said he “tells us he acted innocently, having crawled along Limerick spreading disgraceful rumours about a rival candidate running a brothel and he has the cheek to tell us he forgot it”.

In his personal explanation to the Dáil Mr O’Dea stressed that the matter was a “personal” one and “did not pertain to my responsibilities as a Minister in the Government. It did not pertain to Government policies in any shape, way or form. It was born out of heated political exchanges between me and the Sinn Féin candidate in the run-up to the local elections in Limerick city.”

Mr O’Dea told the Dáil the defamation action taken against him was “mutually agreed and settled in the High Court” and he repeated part of the statement read out in court that “it is not suggested by Mr Quinlivan that Mr O’Dea acted other than innocently in making such denial and he accepts that there was no intention to mislead on the part of Mr O’Dea”.

Mr O’Dea said: “I have openly and fully acknowledged that my recollection of some of what I said in the interview as described in my original affidavit was mistaken. I corrected the mistake when I realised it. I admitted the mistake and apologised for it.” Mr O’Dea stressed that the matter was dealt with in open court “over two months ago and reported widely in the newspapers at the time”.

The Minister criticised Senator Eugene Regan whom he accused of making “unfounded and false accusations” in the Seanad. “He has asserted both directly and indirectly that I only corrected my statement when I had been ‘found out’ and that I have admitted that I lied ‘on oath’. These two unfounded claims have been used as the basis for much of the media commentary since then.”

He said “as I have not lied under oath, I most certainly have not admitted to lying under oath. I made a mistake”. He also insisted that he was not “found out” by the “production of a tape recording of my interview”. Mr O’Dea said: “I knew the interview was being recorded. I didn’t have the transcript of the interview when I made my statement, but as I had seen the report of it in the newspaper, I felt sure a transcript of that tape recording would vindicate my recollection. I was wrong; it didn’t . . . My mistake relates specifically to remarks that were not published in the paper which I honestly did not recall making.”

Mr O’Dea said evidence given to the court was mistaken. “Evidence and testimony is regularly corrected in courts without allegations of perjury and assertions of lying and perjury being levelled. People in all walks of life have been obliged to correct testimony they gave in written and oral statements. There is nothing unusual or pernicious in this.”