Gormley: O'Dea's behaviour meant he had to resign

The Green Party leader John Gormley has said Willie O'Dea's behaviour in trying to defend his actions meant he had to resign.

The Limerick TD was forced to quit as Defence Minister last night after days of controversy over his false sworn statement in the High Court.

He insisted he had always acted honourably and rejected all the accusations made against him, but felt his staying on would be a distraction.

Mr O’Dea resigned amid allegations of perjury after smearing Sinn Féin councillor Maurice Quinlivan by linking him with two “ladies of the night” and then denying it to the High Court.

Green Party TDs and Senator Dan Boyle, who announced his own “no confidence” in Mr O’Dea via Twitter and Facebook, discussed the controversy for three hours yesterday.

Mr O’Dea’s resignation followed a meeting between the Green Party leader and the Taoiseach.

The poll-topping former minister had launched a defiant defence this week claiming he had never contemplated resigning before describing the unfounded allegations as “chit-chat” and a “silly, a stupid mistake”.

Last December he retracted the allegations and paid undisclosed damages to Mr Quinlivan.

It is likely Mr Cowen will announce the new defence minister next week.

Junior minister Conor Lenihan, currently holding the science, technology and innovation portfolio, was one of the first to be suggested for the post.

Here is a statement from John Gormley following O’Dea’s resignation and the publication of a transcript of an interview with the former minister.

“Yesterday afternoon I met Willie O’Dea and he assured me that an article in today’s Limerick Leader would vindicate him,” he said.

“The article published today does not do that. In fact it does the opposite.

“At the very conclusion of yesterday’s Dáil debate, Mr O’Dea said his original actions in the matter were based on information given to him by An Garda Siochana. We were very concerned by this behaviour by a member of Government.

“We have also taken the view that Willie O’Dea’s comments and conduct during yesterday’s debate and in subsequent media appearances were inappropriate.

“All these factors have led us to conclude that Willie O’Dea could not continue as a member of this Government. The issue has already taken up too much energy and attention at a time when crucial economic challenges face the Irish people.

“We are committed to continuing to work with our partners in Government to face those challenges.”

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