Minister’s resignation welcomed
Minister’s resignation welcomed

Limerick Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan has welcomed the resignation of 26-County Defence Minister Willie O’Dea, and said it brought an end to a “sorry saga” that had been very stressful for himself and his family.

The resignation just a little more than 24 hours after Fianna Fail and Green Party TDs had voted confidence in him revealed a high level of disarray within the coalition government but brought a difficult chapter for both government parties to a close.

O’Dea was forced to resign after it emerged he submitted a false affidavit to the High Court in Dublin regarding a pre-election smear he made against Mr Quinlivan, a Sinn Fein election candidate, who he falsely claimed was involved in the operation of a brothel.

“I’m pleased the Minister finally resigned and brought this sorry saga to an end,” he said.

“It has been a stressful year for me and my family. I think the Minister’s resignation finally puts to bed the allegations that were floating around about me.

“The Minister’s position had become untenable and, in my opinion, it was simply not acceptable for a Cabinet Minister to engage in a smear campaign of the nature of the one he did against myself.

“But I also think he should have resigned because he failed Limerick. We have 22,000 people on the Live Register, we have a stalled regeneration programme, and we need a Minister who will deliver, not promise,” Mr Quinlivan said.

Earlier, on Pat Kenny’s radio programme yesterday morning, Mr Quinlivan said he was aware during last June’s local elections that Mr O’Dea and “certain canvassers” were making allegations about him.

“There was nothing I could do to counteract it, but when the Minister then came out, shall we say, and made [the allegations] to the Limerick Leader [newspaper], then I felt I could act.

Asked about Mr O’Dea’s claim that he heard the false allegation about the use of the apartment as a brothel from the Garda, he replied: “The Minister’s stories keep changing and changing and bits get added into it.

“The Minister makes a claim that the gardai started off the whole process. That’s something I would like the gardai to clarify.”

He initially sought an injunction against the Minister in April but failed, because of the “patently false” affidavit from Mr O’Dea.

“I come from a decent family, my parents are elderly, my wife was quite upset.”

However, the tape of the Minister’s interview subsequently came to light and, on August 11th, Mr O’Dea’s barristers contacted his own legal team about it.

“I am really pleased that tape came to light because the case would still be ongoing,” Mr Quinlivan said.

A settlement was reached on December 21st. The affidavit was withdrawn as part of the settlement: “The Minister unreservedly apologised to me. He also withdrew the defamatory statements. He accepted, in his words, that I was ‘a person of exemplary character’, he withdrew the misleading affidavit, he paid me damages and he discharged my legal costs, so I settled the defamation case on that basis.”

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