Limerick TD Willie O'Dea resigns as Minister for Defence
LIMERICK East TD Willie O'Dea has resigned as Defence Minister after the controversy over his false High Court affidavit intensified and the Limerick Leader released a tape of his now infamous interview with journalist Mike Dwane.
In a letter, Minister O'Dea said he came to the conclusion that his continuing in office would distract from the important and vital work of the Government.
In reply, Taoiseach Brian Cowen thanked the former minister for his hard work and commitment.
Deputy O'Dea had come under intense political pressure to resign after he made a defamatory slur against Sinn Fein's Limerick northside councillor Maurice Quinlivan early last year.
In a signed high court affidavit, he had denied making the comments, where he accused Cllr Quinlivan of being involved in a local brothel.
Following numerous demands for the tape - which contained the slur -
to be released, it was made available on the Limerick Leader website and subsequently dominated the national news agenda.
Speaking just hours before his resignation, the Limerick minister said he is a "victim" in this case, as he has been accused of committing perjury, which he strenuously denies.
"There was no intention on my part to damage or destabilise the Government," he said. He added that he has said things in the past "that I didn't really mean in the heat of the moment".
"If I could take it back now, I'd take it back..I don't know what else I can do...This has been very difficult for me and very difficult for my family," he said.
Green party chairman Dan Boyle and Limerick city councillor Maurice Quinlivan, who received an undisclosed "substantial settlement" from Minister O'Dea had called for his resignation.
The Dail was suspended this Thursday as uproar continued over the controversy surrounding the Minister's false statement in a sworn affidavit to the High Court last year.
Minister O'Dea had won a vote of confidence in the Dail.
The garda press office have declined to comment on whether gardai passed on information to the Limerick Minister that Sinn Fein Cllr Maurice Quinlivan was in some way connected to a brothel on Clancy Strand.
Minister O'Dea said he acquired that information from an unnamed garda through "general chit-chat".
"Unfortunately I passed it on," he said, in reference to his conversation with Leader journalist Mike Dwane.
Amid rumours emanating from Leinster House that Minister O'Dea had asked the Limerick Leader to destroy the recording on which he made accusations in relation to the then Sinn Fein local election candidate, Leader editor Alan English confirmed that this was not the case.
"At no time did Willie O'Dea make any such request. We decided to release the tape after overwhelming media demand and it confirms that the transcript already released is an entirely faithful account of the relevant exchange between Willie O'Dea and our reporter."
In the Dail on Wednesday, Joan Burton of the Green Party requested that the tape be played to the public to determine Minister O'Dea's tone of voice when he made the remarks against Cllr Quinlivan. She said it was important for "Irish democracy".
For more, stay with www.limerickleader.ie
See our County and City editions for an exclusive, in-depth report by Mike Dwane, whose interview with Willie O'Dea triggered the controversy. He will reveal the full background to the taped interview which led to Minister O'Dea's affidavit, and ultimately resignation.
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