Home town resigned to loss of big influence in Cabinet
IF any feeling was universal from Willie O'Dea's supporters and colleagues in his home constituency last night, it was one of regret.
The former Defence Minister has been in many political scrapes and been hauled over the coals in public throughout the years, but most in Limerick thought he had survived the latest conflict after Wednesday's vote of confidence in the Dail.
Fast-forward 24 hours and his allies were numb with shock. There was no trace of Willie O'Dea at his listed clinics in rural Limerick last night -- Barry's bar in Caherconlish or at the Weigh Inn pub in Ballysheedy.
However, all across the Treaty City were glued to their TVs last night as it was confirmed that O'Dea was leaving his post.
"I am sorry for anyone that has to resign from cabinet," said former Limerick East FF TD Eddie Wade. The current county councillor said: "He'll be a loss to the mid-west region as he was the only senior cabinet minister from here."
"This is a major setback for the Fianna Fail party and for the government," he added. "I think it could shorten the lifespan of this government."
John Cronin, a former Limerick mayor and close friend of O'Dea, said he was worried earlier this week.
"Personally, I didn't think he was safe," Mr Cronin said. "I spoke to him yesterday (Thursday) and he was not in good form as you can imagine. It is so easy to fall in a political position and it is a personal tragedy for Willie."
"He worked so hard to achieve this position and now it is gone. He made a big mistake and is now paying for it." Cronin added.
Fine Gael councillor and current mayor of Limerick, Kevin Kiely, said he was shocked that Limerick had been left without a minister.
"It was inevitable when we heard Dan Boyle come out and say he was not happy with the situation. His days or even, hours were numbered then," Mr Kiely said.
"On a personal basis, I have huge sympathy for Willie. He was a very hard-working politician and had huge support here. It is a huge shock for Limerick -- we have no voice at the cabinet table at the worst time when we have huge issues here."