O'Dea told Gormley article would 'vindicate him'


GREEN PARTY STATEMENT:GREEN LEADER and Minister for the Environment John Gormley said he was assured by former minister for defence Willie O’Dea that an article in the Limerick Leader would “vindicate him”.

In a statement released after Mr O’Dea’s resignation was announced last night, Mr Gormley said the article in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper in fact “does the opposite”.

“We have also taken the view that Willie O’Dea’s comments and conduct during yesterday’s debate and in subsequent media appearances were inappropriate,” Mr Gormley said last night.

“At the very conclusion of yesterday’s Dáil debate Mr O’Dea said his original actions in the matter were based on information given to him by An Garda Síochána.”

Mr Gormley said the Greens were “very concerned” a member of Government would behave in this way. “All these factors have led us to conclude that Willie O’Dea could not continue as a member of this Government.”

Speaking on RTÉ News last night, Mr Gormley said that when people heard extracts from the taped interview with local journalist Michael Dwane broadcast on radio yesterday, it “probably exacerbated matters”.

Asked if Green TDs had been “bounced” into backing a vote of confidence in Mr O’Dea on Wednesday, Mr Gormley conceded that members had been “taken by surprise”.

The Green Party leader said he was not in the business of issuing threats or ultimatums. He had a “fruitful” discussion with Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday, “and we decided this was the best course of action under the circumstances”. He denied he was forced to change his mind by party members.

Green TDs and Senators learned that the O’Dea issue had been resolved to their satisfaction at a parliamentary party meeting in their party room in Agriculture House on Kildare Street.

Five TDs and two Senators began their meeting in the third-floor meeting room before noon yesterday by reading copies of the Limerick Leader. The mood at the meeting was described as calm but resolute. The TDs left at one point for a Dáil vote, but the meeting resumed after lunch.

By that time, the Greens had heard Mr O’Dea’s interview on RTÉ Radio One’s News at Oneprogramme, after which Fianna Fáil sources say Mr O’Dea and Mr Cowen had a telephone conversation during which it was decided Mr O’Dea would resign. However, Green sources insisted a decision had not been taken by the time Mr Gormley went to meet Mr Cowen after 3pm.

A message posted on the party’s Twitter page at about 5.20pm said Green TDs and Senators had met “to discuss the O’Dea issue” and also confirmed Mr Gormley had held a meeting with Mr Cowen.

By that stage, Mr Gormley had already returned to brief his party colleagues on what was said in the course of his meeting with Mr Cowen. “The Green parliamentary party members are satisfied that the issue will be resolved to their satisfaction,” a spokesman for the party in Government said.

At the meeting with Mr Gormley were Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan; deputy leader and Carlow-Kilkenny TD Mary White; Dún Laoghaire deputy Ciarán Cuffe and Dublin Mid-West TD Paul Gogarty.

The party’s remaining Senators, Dan Boyle from Cork and former mayor of Galway Niall Ó Brolcháin,were there. The only member of the Green parliamentary party not in attendance was Minister of State for Food and former leader Trevor Sargent, who was in Nuremberg, attending an organic food event.