FG targets O'Dea over error in court oath
Published 17/02/2010 | 05:00
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea's claim his false statement under oath is a "personal" matter was contradicted by Fine Gael last night.
Mr O'Dea will face a motion of no confidence next week amid suggestions he may be "guilty of perjury".
Taoiseach Brian Cowen stood by Mr O'Dea over the growing controversy arising from his admission he made a false statement under oath.
Mr Cowen said the minister was acting "in a personal capacity" and had not broken any rules about being a Cabinet member. He said it was accepted in court that Mr O'Dea had "acted innocently".
The minister readily admits he was mistaken in his memory of the details in his original statement. But Fine Gael says the minister's affidavit, where he made the mistake, states he is a "TD and minister", so he wasn't just making it in a personal capacity, but a political one. The affidavit was made in a successful libel action taken against him by Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan, a brother of IRA suspect Nessan Quinlivan, who escaped from Brixton Prison in 1991 with one of the killers of Det Gda Jerry McCabe, Pearse McAuley.
Mr O'Dea attempted to end the controversy by making a personal statement in the Dail.
After hearing Mr O'Dea's explanation, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny announced his party will move a motion of no confidence in the Defence Minister. The Green Party is also backing Mr O'Dea saying the matter was dealt with in court.
Mr Kenny also demanded to know what Mr Cowen had done about Mr O'Dea's admission.
"This is as much about the Taoiseach, his standards and what he oversees in his Cabinet as it is about anyone else.
"From that point of view, I find it completely unsatisfactory that in a situation where it is clear that a member of the Cabinet submitted a sworn affidavit that he subsequently said was false, he still continues in Cabinet," he said.
Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan was thrown out of the Dail after Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk accused him of "casting an aspersion" on him. Mr Flanagan had stated: "This is a carefully contrived whitewash and I hope the Ceann Comhairle's office is not complicit in this."
Labour Party justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte said Mr O'Dea had "crawled around Limerick spreading disgraceful rumours" about a rival candidate. "He has been lying in here for 25 years," he said.
Mr O'Dea said he "openly and fully acknowledged that his recollection of some of what I said in the interview as described in my original affidavit was mistaken."