Tuesday 20 March 2018

'It's a sad day . . . he did a lot of work for the city'

Barry Duggan

ANY dreams he harboured of advancing his political career further came crashing around him this week.

But if a general election was held in the morning, it is likely Willie O'Dea would again top the poll in his home base of Limerick.

Feelings of shock and dismay prevailed last night as Mr O'Dea's downfall was debated at length across his constituency.

Last night, he cancelled his weekend clinics, but Mr O'Dea can draw some comfort from the groundswell of support voiced on Limerick's streets yesterday.

Normally on Friday evenings, the Fianna Fail politician holds a clinic at the Windmill Bar on Henry Street. Proprietor Tim Hennessy has greeted the former Defence Minister for 20 years at the counter.

"His resignation was a sad day for Limerick. He was our only representative at the cabinet table and did a lot of work for this city," he said.

"We will have to see now if Limerick is to retain a seat at the cabinet table, but if there was an election tomorrow, we all know who would top the poll," Mr Hennessy said.

Owner of HSI college in Limerick and former 2FM DJ Michael McNamara is a close friend of Mr O'Dea. He stood alongside the besieged politician as the media fired questions at him yesterday evening.

Mr McNamara said Willie's resignation was "a bad day for Limerick".

"Willie is a decent man who wore his heart on his sleeve and that got him into trouble," he added. "He is very upset by all of this. He feels he has left the people of Limerick down, but he feels he has been made a scapegoat as such."

A cross section of political rivalries gathered at South's Pub on O'Connell Avenue last night.

The owner of South's, Dave Hickey, said the loss of Mr O'Dea was "a sad time for Willie and his family. He was a great man for the poor and ordinary people of Limerick -- that is where he got his vote."

Irish Independent

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