O'Dea says Cowen did not have a mandate for cuts
FORMER Defence Minister Willie O'Dea remained in government despite believing the Fianna Fail/Green coalition had "no mandate" to introduce cuts in public expenditure and amid deep concerns about the blanket bank guarantee.
A new documentary, 'Crisis - Inside the Cowen Government', to be broadcast on RTE tonight, reveals that Mr O'Dea and cabinet colleague Mary Hanafin had serious concerns about how the decision to introduce a €400bn bank guarantee was taken without a full cabinet discussion.
But last night Mr O'Dea defended his decision to stay in office, claiming he made repeated attempts to have a general election called. Ms Hanafin was not available to say why she remained in office despite her serious reservations.
The pair said they were effectively given no alternative but to approve the decision to offer a blanket guarantee to all of Ireland's banks after being told there was the possibility "of no money in the ATMs" if it wasn't approved.
"It was probably the most far-reaching decision I ever participated in my five years in cabinet and I would have liked to have sat around the table to discuss it," said Mr O'Dea.
Ms Hanafin claimed that ministers were told it was the "only option" to protect people's money and it "had" to be done before the markets opened. "That decision shouldn't have been taken at a quarter to two in the morning . . . all cabinet members should have been called to Dublin," she added.
Last night, Mr O'Dea claimed the government had no mandate to introduce drastic cuts in public expenditure, because by 2009 the economic situation had radically changed compared with when Fianna Fail took office just two years previously. He said he told Taoiseach Brian Cowen that an election should have been called, but was ignored.
"The situation had changed out of all proportion since we got our last mandate in June 2007," he said.
"I raised it several times with senior members of the government, including the Taoiseach. I was told it would be irresponsible to call an election.
"I took the view we didn't have a mandate (but) what purpose would have been served by me leaving the government? I believed I would be better served communicating my views around the cabinet table."