O’Dea admits Greens forced his resignation

WILLIE O’Dea has admitted that the Green Party forced his departure as Defence Minister and said he would take the events of this week “to my grave”.

It came as Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said the force would consider in the next few days whether an investigation was merited into the controversy embroiling Mr O’Dea.

But the Limerick TD insisted he had made “only a small mistake”.

Mr O’Dea also claimed other ministers in the past had done “far worse” things and survived – and that he had staunchly defended one of them.

He made his comments in Limerick as the Government attempted to draw a line under the damaging affair, which had its origins in a newspaper interview last March in which Mr O’Dea smeared a political rival by linking him to a brothel.

Mr O’Dea subsequently swore an affidavit in which he denied making the remarks, only for a recording of the interview to prove that he had. In December, he apologised and paid damages to the victim of the smear, Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan, but insisted the untrue affidavit had been an honest mistake based on a flawed recollection of the interview.

Mr Cowen and Fianna Fáil insisted yesterday that Mr O’Dea had resigned of his own volition.

But Mr O’Dea revealed that he departed because the Greens would have pulled out of coalition otherwise.

“I decided to resign after speaking to the Taoiseach when it became clear that the Green Party would no longer support the Government if I were to stay,” he said.

“There might be some people who might take the view that the punishment outweighs the offence. I can think of other situations involving ministers which I won’t elaborate on now who did far worse. They survived,” he added.

“I remember being in government with one of them at the time and I didn’t call for his resignation; in fact, I defended him in every way possible, and on any scale of values I think what he did was worse than what I did.”

He said events of the past week had been “horrific”, adding: “It is something I’ll take to my grave.”

Garda Commissioner Murphy said it would be decided in the coming days whether to investigate Mr O’Dea’s claim that his defamatory remarks were based on information supplied by a garda. The commissioner said a decision would also be made on a formal complaint by a Green Party member alleging perjury by Mr O’Dea.

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