Martin increases pressure on councillor over road incident

Party leader Micheál Martin tells Jerry O’Dea to make further statement on controversy

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has increased pressure on a party county councillor involved in controversy over the absence of a prosecution in a car crash.

Mr Martin has in recent days instructed a party official to contact Cllr Jerry O'Dea, the metropolitan mayor of Limerick, to tell him he must make a further, more comprehensive statement on the matter. The Fianna Fáil leader has described the incident as "very serious".

In a weekend statement, Mr O'Dea confirmed he was involved in a traffic incident in December 2014 but said he made "no contact" with An Garda Síochána after the initial investigation.

Mr O’Dea’s statement said he was involved in a single-vehicle crash and was the sole occupant of the car: “Following the accident I co-operated fully with An Garda Síochána and subsequently made no further contact with An Garda Síochána about the issue.”

Mr O’Dea faced no further action, and there is no record of a summons being issued.

“In early May 2015 I was informed there would be no action against me. I consider the matter closed,” he said in his statement.

Public concern

However, it is understood Mr Martin feels this statement does not go far enough to address public concern about the incident.

On Monday, Mr Martin instructed Fianna Fáil general secretary Seán Dorgan to contact Mr O’Dea and tell him a more detailed, public explanation is required.

Party sources said Mr O’Dea had yet to confirm if he will provide a further statement. Moves to expel Mr O’Dea are unlikely since he has not been charged with a criminal offence.

He did not return requests for comment on Tuesday night.

Mr Martin confirmed he had instructed Mr Dorgan to contact Mr O’Dea.

“Cllr O’Dea was advised that the party viewed this matter to be very serious,” said Mr Martin. “He was then advised to consider making a detailed and comprehensive statement about the circumstances surrounding his road traffic accident. The response is awaited.”

Pressure escalates

The comments mark an escalation of the pressure on Mr O’Dea from within his own party.

Fianna Fáil has previously said the incident was “an operational issue for An Garda Síochána, which has launched an investigation into the matter”.

It added: “All individuals concerned should fully co-operate with the inquiry.”

The incident occurred when a BMW car overturned on the outskirts of Limerick city on December 11th, 2014. The driver had to be helped from the vehicle by gardaí and the member of the fire brigade.

Mr O’Dea claimed he had swerved to avoid another vehicle that fled the scene.

He was taken to University Hospital Limerick where tests were carried out.

The handling of the Garda investigation has subsequently become the matter of an internal inquiry by An Garda Síochána.