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O'Dea will not face criminal charges over false affidavit

FORMER Defence Minister Willie O'Dea is off the hook following a Garda probe into allegations he lied in an affidavit.

The Limerick TD will not face criminal charges over the controversy that cost him his ministerial post, it emerged today.

Gardai had been investigating a complaint made by a Green Party member that Mr O'Dea may have committed perjury but have now decided not to proceed with the case.

Mr O'Dea was effectively forced to resign from Cabinet in February after a tape confirmed that he had given an incorrect affidavit to the High Court.

Speaking about the Garda decision to drop the case, a relieved Mr O'Dea said it had been "a rough six months".

"I have lost my job, lost a lot of money and had to undergo a Garda investigation because of a mistake," he said.

In April 2009, he submitted an affidavit to the court in which he "categorically and emphatically" denied making an allegation about Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan.

The row centred over an interview with a journalist from a Limerick newspaper whom Mr O'Dea had told that Mr Quinlivan was linked to a brothel in the city. He told the journalist to check the information with his sources.

Despite the initial denials, the ex-minister was later forced to admit that he had made the allegations after the journalist produced a tape recording of the interview.

He argued that the sworn affidavit did represent his recollection of events but agreed to pay damages to the councillor.

The controversy caused a huge split between Fianna Fail and their coalition partners.

Initially Mr O'Dea's own party stood behind him with the Taoiseach expressing confidence, but a complaint of potential criminal misconduct to gardai by Green election candidate Gary Fitzgerald meant his days as a minister were numbered.

Eventually, he resigned after Green Party chairman Dan Boyle tweeted that he didn't have confidence in him as a minister.

It is understood that a senior garda informed Mr O'Dea yesterday that the Director of Public Prosecutions believes he has no criminal case to answer.



deserve

In the aftermath of his stepping down from Government, Mr O'Dea said he didn't think he "deserve to be sacked, or to have to resign as a minister for what I did".

"It's been a very difficult period, a tough period," he said.

Since his resignation, it has also emerged that Mr O'Dea will have to resit his driving test.

Having had a ministerial chauffeur since 1997, his licence had expired but he recently passed his theory test.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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