Friday 31 October 2014

Political arch rivals become unlikely bedfellows as they sleep rough to raise awareness

David Raleigh

Published 25/08/2014 | 17:40

Former Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea, who had to resign from Cabinet in 2009 after making statements about Sinn Fein Limerick City Councillor Maurice Quinlivan, is to bed down alongside him in a homeless fundraising drive.

Two arch political adversaries are to become unlikely bedfellows in highlighting the rising problem of homelessness among people swamped by distressed mortgages.

Former Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea, who had to resign from Cabinet in 2009 after making statements about Sinn Fein Limerick City Councillor Maurice Quinlivan, is to bed down alongside him in a homeless fundraising drive.

Both men have signed up to sleep rough on October 3 in the Gaelic Grounds, to raise much needed funds  for the Simon Community in their native Limerick.

Both Deputy O'Dea and Cllr Quinlivan were apparently unaware they had signed up for the sleeping rough initiative.

When informed he would be sleeping out with Mr Quinlivan, the former Fianna Fáil TD joked: "Not in the same bed, I hope."

Deputy O'Dea confirmed he would be sleeping under the stars "alone"

"I'm going out to bed down on my own, in the Gaelic Grounds, on behalf of the Simon Community," he added.

Mr Quinlivan admitted both men had had a "colourful past" but he would let that get in the way of the Simon fundraiser.

"We've had (a colourful past), but that's life. I've no issue bedding down with anybody."

"Myself and Willie settled all that in 2009. The repercussions for him will probably stay with him for the rest of his life, but that's his own problem," Cllr Quinlivan added.

"As far as I'm concerned it's dealt with, and obviously he has lost his ministerial post over it and he's suffering the repercussions of that still, I think."

Asked if he would be sharing his tooth brush with the former minister the morning after their sleep out, Mr Quinlivan replied: "I doubt we'll go that far. I believe in peace and reconciliation, but that could be a bit too far."

"We're hoping to raise about €100,000. What we are trying to highlight is that, there is a new hidden homeless, where people who are in distressed mortgages are facing eviction from their homes due to arrears," explained Jackie Bonfield, manager of Simon Community mid west region.

Deputy O'Dea said ghost estates should be immediately used to try and alleviate the homelessness problem.

In the summer of 2008, Minister O'Dea made a sworn statement in connection with a High Court case taken by Mr Quinlivan, then a Sinn Féin local election candidate.

While Mr O'Dea accepted making comments about Mr Quinlivan which were published in a local newspaper, he denied making other, unpublished, comments which figured in the court case.

It later transpired that he had in fact made the comments - Mr O'Dea said he had forgotten making them, and apologised.

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