Irish Republican News · October 16, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: O’Donoghue plays the victim
O’Donoghue plays the victim
johnodonoghue.jpg

John O’Donoghue formally resigned as Ceann Comhairle [speaker] of the Dublin parliament yesterday, defiantly blaming others for the scandal over his expense claims.

In a half-hour speech to the Dail, the outgoing Ceann Comhairle attempted an absurd and possibly delusional defence of his record in the controversy surrounding his foreign travel and office expenses.

Through a series of investigations by the Sunday Tribune, it was revealed that O’Donoghue had amassed expenses of over 600,000 Euro during his period in office in his current position and as minister for arts, sport and tourism.

Among the revelations were that Mr O’Donoghue and his wife used expenses for numerous trips abroad, including to the USA, Australia and South Africa, as well as attending race meetings in England and various other European countries.

O’Donoghue also made use of first class flights to attend events in his constituency of Kerry South, despite having the use of a full-time Garda driver. During one sojourn, O’Donoghue spent five hundred Euro for the hire of a limousine to ferry him between terminals in Heathrow Airport, as well as charging to expenses 120 Euro with which he purchased his secretary a hat so she could attend a Royal Ascot race meeting.

Mr O’Donoghue also employed ten staff members, including a “special adviser”, although their functions were unclear.

Speaking from the chair of the house this week, a red-faced O’Donoghue delivered a lyrical and tragic address. In it, he claimed that he had become the scapegoat for an expenses regime that had fallen into disrepute and attacked Labour leader Eamon Gilmore for what he described as a “pre-emptive assertion of no confidence”, which caused him to resign.

He maintained his overseas travel spending was not markedly different from other Ministers; that his role as Ceann Comhairle had demanded a large expense account; and that calls for his resignation had denied him the right to defend his position.

“Patience in aid of fairness gave way, alas, to impatience to surf the political wave of competitive outrage. Lest it be said that the failure to give me a chance to defend myself has somehow embittered me, I want to acknowledge that the failure to afford me a right to be fairly heard arises from weakness rather than malice,” he said.

“Lest it be said that the failure to give me a chance to defend myself has somehow embittered me, I want to acknowledge that the failure to afford me a right to be fairly heard arises from weakness rather than malice,” he added.

He blamed the public outrage over his expense claims on “the prism of the current recession”. He implied that the abuse of expense priviliges was a practice well enshrined in Irish parliamentary tradition.

“While there may be a difference of scale with some in this House there is no difference of principle between me and many others who are subject to these regimes,” he said.

“I never transgressed any procedure, guideline or regulation. I never committed any offence,” he declared. “I am not guilty of any corruption.”

* The Fianna Fail TD for Louth, Seamus Kirk, was elected to succeed Mr O’Donoghue.

Mr Kirk, a former Minister for State and the chairman of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party since 2002, was elected by 87 votes to 51 votes over Donegal South West TD Dinny McGinley, the nomination of Fine Gael.

© 2009 Irish Republican News