'O'Dea had to go for two reasons'


The following is the full statement by Eamon Gilmore TD, leader of the Labour Party on the resignation of Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea.

The resignation of Willie O’Dea as Minister for Defence was inevitable once the full details of his conduct emerged over recent days, including the release of the tape and his RTE interview today. The process of Mr. O’Dea’s departure was hastened by the approach of the Taoiseach and that of his Fianna Fail colleagues in the Dail during this week.

Mr. O’Dea had to go for two reasons. The first was that he made an absolutely scurrilous and unfounded allegation about a political opponent in his constituency, an allegation that he was subsequently forced to admit was totally and utterly without foundation. The second was that he swore an affidavit that contained a blatant untruth. There can hardly be a more serious issue for a Minister of Defence than having admitted swearing an affidavit that contained a falsehood.

However, Mr. O’Dea’s fate was sealed by the manner in which he and his Fianna Fail colleagues responded to the motion of no-confidence. Rather than treating it as the serious matter it was, Mr. Cowen, Mr. O’Dea and others adopted a totally dismissive attitude and engaged in what can only be described as a form of parliamentary slapstick.

Mr. Cowen was also guilty of a serious political misjudgement. It was clear that the Taoiseach proceeded with the motion on Wednesday without first having secured the full agreement of the Green Party. The simmering resentment of the Green Party as this humiliation was evident to everyone in the Dail over the past two days.

Mr. Cowen’s action may well have damaged this government beyond repair and has certainly shortened its likely term of office. That can only be a good thing for the Irish people.

In the Dail on Wednesday I stressed that the Labour Party had no confidence in this government as a collective entity or in the Ministers in their individual capacities. The sooner we can achieve a change of government and direction and give others the opportunity to undo the damage that Fianna Fail has caused, the sooner the process of recovery and reconstruction can begin.