‘Frugal’ John O’Donoghue: I want my FF Dail seat back
FORMER Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, who dramatically lost his seat last year, wants to run for Fianna Fail in Kerry in the next General Election telling voters today: "You’ve tried the rest, bring back the best".
Mr O’Donoghue (55) was forced to resign as speaker of the house in 2009 over his extravagant expenses claims.
In an interview published in today’s edition of Kerry’s Eye newspaper, he said: "A lot of people would say 'What's wrong with that fellow? He's got a damn fine pension now. Wouldn't he walk off into the sunset?' That's not how it's going to be.
"I would venture to say that I am the most experienced politician in this county who is offering himself for election. Outside of Dick Spring, no other politician has as much experience as I, except I didn't have the privilege of leading the party."
He said he lived a frugal lifestyle: "Most people who know me in the constituency would be well aware of the fact that I actually live very simply.”
And he added: "I don't say it in a boastful way, but I doubt if there was a TD in the history of the constituency who achieved as much for it."
Mr O’Donoghue was forced to resign in October 2009 from the position of Ceann Comhairle after a controversy over his expenses, exposed by the Sunday Tribune newspaper, had dragged on for months.
During two years while he was Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism he claimed Ministerial expenses of €126,000, including attending major race meetings in Australia and France under the guise of political necessity and taking limousine rides between airport terminals.
In one six day period in 2006 he used the government jet at a cost of €32,450 attending the Cannes Film festival, returning to Kerry for the opening of the Fexco company, travelling to the Heineken Cup final which Munster won and then travelling back to Cannes before going to London for a Ryder Cup event.
Car hire services on four trips to London came to €21,289 and three of the four visits were connected with race meetings at Cheltenham and Ascot.
He also sent his state car to Kerry to pick him up at the airport after he had flown from Dublin.
Before a planned Labour party motion of no confidence in him was put to the Dail, Mr O’Donoghue resigned his position as Ceann Comhairle strongly defending his conduct and claiming that he had been scapegoated.
When he lost his seat last year to Independent Tom Fleming he said: “I hope that the irony will not be lost upon you that I stand here, on my evening of defeat, in a hall – this magnificent sports complex – which I helped to build.”
He receives an annual pension of €119,000.
He claimed in today’s newspaper interview, that two of the sitting TDs in South Kerry Independents Tom Fleming and Michael Healy Rae are completely powerless and have been reduced to the role of spectators.