‘You’ll be amazed’: Willie O’Dea to reveal all in memoir

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

FORMER Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea has revealed his plans to write his memoirs in the near future, after keeping diaries of his political life for more than 20 years.

FORMER Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea has revealed his plans to write his memoirs in the near future, after keeping diaries of his political life for more than 20 years.

The 60 year-old Fianna Fail TD said he hopes to publish his memoirs - possibly in two volumes “to whet the public’s appetite” - when he retires from political life, but has no such ambitions just yet.

He said he’ll continue to seek election “as long as the voters want me” and “certainly won’t write it until I’m out of the Dail.”

“You wouldn’t know how you’d feel from election to election. The last time I was seriously considering getting out, but I persuaded to stay on and hold a seat for the party, which I did.”

While he has not yet considered approaching publishers, he said the memoirs would reveal some secrets from the Cabinet table as the economic crisis peaked, which he said will come as a surprise the public.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader, the former poll-topper said he has kept all his diaries over more than two decades, and as part of his New Year resolutions plans to devote more time to writing this year.

“We went through a lot of turbulent times - the battle of the Haughey leadership, through to the Albert Reynolds times, the years of the Celtic Tiger, being re-appointed to the Cabinet by Brian Cowen, and resigning as a minister.

“There’s a lot of high points from the public point of view. It’s been a pretty eventful period and we lived through some eventful times. We’ve had the massive recession of the 80s, the arrival of the Celtic Tiger, and now back again to a very severe recession. We’ve seen highs and lows and ups and downs.”

The columnist said he writes “comprehensively” three or four times a week, analysing the events of recent days, and promised that any forthcoming publication won’t be a political “whitewash”.

Asked if he’ll reveal his true feelings about political figures, he said: “Absolutely – subject to the lawyers. You’d be amazed who I’d be talking well about and surprised by who I won’t be talking so well about.”

“I guarantee you there’ll be heavy involvement by the legal profession.”

The deputy denied any account of his time in politics would be a whitewash: “It’ll be more a la carte than Mary O’Rourke.”

Deputy O’Dea said he regards the works by Alan Clark, the British Conservative MP and diarist, who served as a junior minister during Margaret Thatcher’s governments, most highly and that is the style he would like to replicate.

“It was absolutely exhilarating stuff. Clark made £8m from his books, but I won’t be doing it for money,” joked the Kilteely native. Though he originally qualified as a barrister from the Kings Inn in Dublin, Mr O’Dea has been a member of the Dail since February 1982.