O'Dea tells Rabbitte to 'get a life' over gun photo


Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea has told Pat Rabbitte to "get a life" after the Labour leader said newspaper photographs of of Mr O'Dea pointing a gun were a "tasteless stunt".

Willie O'Dea has been criticised for posing with a gun yesterday
Willie O'Dea has been criticised for posing with a gun yesterday

Mr O'Dea is photographed in three newspapers, including The Irish Times, aiming an automatic pistol towards the camera during a Defence Forces exercise at the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, yesterday.

Greens leader Trevor Sargent today raised the matter with Tánaiste Mary Harney during the Order of Business in the Dáil and called for the adjournment of the house under Standing Order 21 to discuss it.

Mr Sargent also asked if there would be any ministerial accountability for the photographs, but Ceann Comhairle Rory O'Hanlon ruled the matter out of order.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins asked Ms Harney: "As a matter of Dáil security, did you at least require the Minister for Defence to leave his weapon at the door this morning?"

"If not, I was going to ask Deputy (Martin) Ferris to go down to disarm him.

"As we all know, weaponry is not a laughing matter, but we do sometimes have to undermine the increasing pomposity of Government ministers."

Mr Rabbitte said the images had no regard for the current climate in which three people were murdered within two days in a bloody gangland feud in Dublin.

"Rather than making a matter of frivolity at a time when two warring gangs are feuding and risking public safety on the streets of Dublin city, can I ask whether she doesn't agree with me that the photograph on the front page of The Irish Timesis at minimum an ill-judged, tasteless stunt by a Minister and completely without any regard for the environment in which he permits that to happen."

But speaking on RTÉ radio at lunchtime, Mr O'Dea hit back at Mr Rabbitte's comments. "Some day Pat Rabbitte will drown in his own pomposity," the Minister said.

Pat Rabbitte is a man who approaches every subject with an open mouth
Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea

"The fact is that Pat Rabbitte is a man that approaches every subject with an open mouth. He seems to be permanently in awe of his own cleverness. My message to Pat Rabbitte is quite simple - get a life."

Mr O'Dea said there was "no intention to offend anybody's sensibilities" by posing for the photograph. He said he had appeared in dozens of photographs at yesterday's event.

"People then decided, having had all those photographs at their disposal, to publish one particular photograph. They had longer to consider the matter than I had. The thing was just done on the spur of the moment," he said.

Mr O'Dea was attending a demonstration of hostage rescue and anti-terrorist capabilities by the elite Army Rangers Wing.

As part of the display, the Rangers abseiled from helicopters, stormed a house using explosives to blow a hole in a wall, and carried out a mock rescue of a "captured UN official".