News Irish News

Thursday 17 August 2017

Green Party senator says he has 'no confidence' in O'Dea

Fionnan Sheahan, Political Editor

A SENIOR member of the Green Party declared last night that he didn't have confidence in Defence Minister Willie O'Dea -- just hours after his party's TDs voted to back the minister.

The junior coalition partners suffered an internal backlash from its support of the Fianna Fail minister in the controversy over his false statement under oath.

Mr O'Dea easily survived a motion of confidence with the votes of Green Party ministers and TDs.

The minister claimed the gardai incorrectly told him a political rival was involved in the operation of a brothel.

But Green senator and party chairman Dan Boyle said he did not have confidence in the minister.

Mr Boyle expressed his unhappiness at how events panned out and his belief that the party was "bounced" into supporting an early motion for Mr O'Dea, when next week would be fine.

Compromised

"As regards to Minister O'Dea, I don't have confidence in him. His situation is compromised.

"Probably be a few chapters in this story yet," he said.

Just hours before, Green ministers John Gormley and Eamon Ryan, along with backbenchers Mary White, Ciaran Cuffe and Paul Gogarty, voted confidence in Mr O'Dea.

The Dail passed the motion of confidence in the Defence Minister by 80 votes to 69.

In a poorly worded speech, Mr Ryan made a half-hearted defence of his cabinet colleague. Mr Ryan said the crucial issue was Mr O'Dea acknowledged the mistake in his original statement.

The Green Party's previous calls for high standards in public office were fired back at the junior coalition party.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan both accused Fine Gael of tabling a motion of no confidence to distract from the departure of George Lee.

Mr Cowen said the issue had more to do with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny's need "to show his party he is up to the job".

Mr Lenihan said the issue was in the public domain for two months and was raised by a Fine Gael senator a fortnight ago.

"It has become a matter of immense moment because of the discomfiture of the Opposition at the departure of Deputy Lee," he said.

The Finance Minister directly challenged Mr Kenny to "produce any evidence Mr O'Dea intentionally mislead" the court.

But Mr Kenny hit back saying this matter was about standards at ministerial level. "It is not simply about the minister, Deputy O'Dea. This is an act of criminality against the laws of the State which the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is supposed to uphold and the Taoiseach is supposed to implement," he said.

Pattern

Describing Mr O'Dea as a "political Pinocchio", Fine Gael's Brian Hayes said there was a pattern of behaviour over many years.

"He has been found out for the fraud that he is," he said.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said an allegation of having sworn a false affidavit would be a serious matter for any minister. "In the case of Deputy O'Dea the allegation is of such seriousness that it renders him unsuitable to hold the office he now occupies," he said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News