FINE Gael Deputy Michael Noonan expressed his sympathies to former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea over his shock resignation, acknowledging that this is a very difficult time for the people of Limerick.
"At a personal level, I sympathise with him and I feel very sorry for him. It is regrettable that Limerick will be without a Cabinet minister for the foreseeable future," Deputy Noonan told the Limerick Leader.
"Willie O'Dea was always a very tough competitor in debates and in the Dil. This is a personal tragedy for him," he added.
Deputy Noonan refused to speculate on who Mr O'Dea's successor to the defence portfolio might be, believing that there might now be a wider Cabinet reshuffle.
He also said that it was too soon to predict if a general election would follow Mr O'Dea's fall from grace but- in reference to possible tension between Fianna Fil and the Greens- added that it can be hard to repair political relationships once they start to go sour.
"Willie O'Dea was a very doughty opponent and I have always had a lot of respect for his vote-getting abilities," Mr Noonan said.
Earlier on Friday, Deputy Noonan told Limerick Live 95's Joe Nash that the Greens have not been around long enough to realise they were being "bounced" by their Coalition partners Fianna Fil to support Mr O'Dea in his Dil confidence motion. Deputy Noonan hoped that Taoiseach Brian Cowen would pick someone from the Limerick region as Mr O'Dea's replacement at Cabinet level.
He added that It was a loss for the Limerick, as the third city in Ireland, to now be without Cabinet representation.