Tuesday 24 October 2017

Cowen to back O'Dea over evidence error

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Taoiseach Brian Cowen will stand by Defence Minister Willie O'Dea if pressed on the minister's fitness to remain in office.

Mr O'Dea is accused of giving false evidence on oath in a libel case in the High Court.

Fine Gael is set to press Mr Cowen, and junior coalition partners the Greens, over Mr O'Dea's admission that part of a sworn affidavit was wrong.

The evidence was given in a successful action by a Sinn Fein representative in Limerick.

The minister readily admits he was mistaken in his memory of the details in his original statement.

Mr O'Dea said it was his flawed recollection of an interview. But this was accepted in a settlement between all sides agreed in court, he said.

"As soon as I discovered my mistake, I corrected it," he said last night.

Mr O'Dea is understood to have discussed the matter with Mr Cowen and Attorney General Paul Gallagher, with neither of them viewing it as a difficulty.

The disclosure of Mr O'Dea's mistake in a legal affidavit emerged some months back.

However, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has never discussed it with Mr Cowen.

Breached

But members of FG's parliamentary party are exercised and intend making it an issue.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan intends to raise the matter with Mr Cowen tomorrow.

But the Taoiseach will back Mr O'Dea over any claims he breached the Cabinet's rule book.

"All the Taoiseach will have to point to is the court record. The court record shows the other side accepted ... it was a genuine mistake," a spokesman said.

Irish Independent

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