O'Dea granted 'compassionate leave' from Dail
Former minister sorting out his affairs
Published 15/03/2010 | 05:00
FORMER Defence Minister Willie O'Dea has been given "time out" from Dail votes to sort out his affairs in the aftermath of his controversial resignation.
Since bowing out of the Department of Defence on February 18, Mr O'Dea has appeared in the Dail on only one day to cast his vote with Government colleagues.
Despite the Government's ever-decreasing majority, the former minister is understood to have an understanding with the chief whip's office to miss votes. But sources have insisted Mr O'Dea is not missing from Dail votes on a "point of principle".
Instead, he is said to be on something akin to "compassionate leave".
The agreed time out means he is not expected to travel from Limerick for votes on the Order of Business, government legislation or on opposition parties' private members motions.
However, the former minister -- who has seen his salary fall from €191,417 to €92,672 as a backbench TD -- could lose out on some expenses under the new clocking-in-and-out system if he fails to return to normal Dail activity soon. TDs and senators have to swipe in every day and attend 80pc or 120 days of the requisite 150 days for full payment of expenses.
Mr O'Dea is expected to be back for all votes when the Dail resumes next week after the St Patrick's Day festivities.
The Limerick West TD was forced to step down after it emerged he gave false information in a sworn affidavit and the Green Party piled pressure on the Taoiseach to act.
Since Mr O'Dea's resignation, there have been 14 votes in all.
He was present on the vote immediately following his resignation on February 24 but has not voted since then according to an examination of the Dail voting records.
Asked for a response last night, a spokesman for government chief whip Pat Carey would only say that "Mr O'Dea's absence is accounted for and he has permission".