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Miriam Donoghue: Sorry Willie -- but you've nobody to blame but yourself

Willy's gone. It wasn't so much a Green tweet that hung Willy O'Dea. It was his big mouth.

The Limerick terrier -- always at his best when he is in a fight -- has no one to blame for his humiliating fall from grace but himself. Not the Green Party. Not the opposition. Not the Limerick Leader. But himself and his trap.

The master of the political one liner was too clever by half on this occasion, literally talking himself out of office. His colourful tongue got him into serious scrapes before, but in this case there was no sweet talking his way back.

It seems incredible now looking back on a very a long 24 hours in politics -- to think that a Government minister who made a false statement in a high court affidavit could survive. He lied under oath.

Willy might have been saved if he had showed some humility during the Dail debate on the confidence motion the other night.

Instead of displaying any real repentance, in typical Willy O'Dea style he adopted a posture of outright defiance. Small in stature, he is still capable of puffing himself up when in the heat of battle to defend himself.

Yes, he admitted he made mistakes. Yes, he was careless to have made that highly damaging affidavit. But hadn't he realised his mistake? And hadn't he later retracted the statement? Hasn't he paid damages? End of story and move on.

But Willy and his Government colleagues were missing the point.

He, more than anyone as a qualified barrister and as a holder of high public office, should have known the importance of a sworn statement. An oath is a sacred thing and there is a requirement on every citizen in the state not just a Government minister to tell the truth.

Before putting his signature to that affidavit he should have double checked his facts.

He could have checked with the journalist. He knew the interview was taped on the night in question. The notion that Willy had no recollection of accusing local election Sinn Fein candidate Maurice Quinlivan in a newspaper interview of being involved in a brothel defies belief.

If Willy had displayed some humility in the Dail, maybe Dan Boyle wouldn't have been moved to issue the fatal tweets late on Wednesday night.

The Greens had bottled it when they were bounced into an early motion of confidence in the minister. A clever move on Fianna Fail's part to get the matter dealt with before their junior partner had the wobbles.

Boyle, a senator who didn' have a vote in the Dail, must have been sickened at Willy's display as he watched on the Dail monitor in his office in Leinster House.

Instead of burying the issue, the notorious tweets stirred the matter up again. The Greens went into conclave yesterday morning.

In a desperate effort to quench the fire Willy was told to do the one o'clock radio news.

The playing of the tape of the interview during the programme was the killer blow. We were treated to Willy and his big mouth at its worst.

Reading the transcript of the taped interview was one thing but to hear it played over the national airwaves was shocking. It was sordid and grubby. Willy's fate was sealed.

Despite Brian Cowen pledging confidence in his man mid afternoon the only betting was whether Willy's resignation would make it on time for the six or the nine o'clock news.

Willy's fertile imagination hadn't abated even at the height of this storm. He assured John Gormley on Wednesday that a story in the Limerick Leader to be published yesterday would vindicate him further. Nothing further damaging would emerge he assured him.

But how did Willy know what was going to appear in the paper? The newspaper's editor confirmed this morning that they had not informed the minister of the contents of the story.

Maybe Willy can forge a new career in writing fairy tales.


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