Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bye bye Willie #odea

We posted a few days ago about Seanad questions regarding Willie O'Dea and his affidavit. O'Dea has this evening resigned as Minister for Defence.

Typically, he has accepted no blame and offered no meaningful apology, but then Irish politicians never do, it seems, even those who are forced to resign.

O'Dea has instead trundled out the usual blather about resigning because, as he said himself in his letter to Brian Cowen [pdf],
my continuing in office will only serve to distract from the important and vital work of Government
So he's casting it as noble self-sacrifice in the face of unwarranted harassment from the opposition and the media when he only made a silly little mistake.

The RTÉ report tonight also says this:
Asked about his statement that he received information from An Garda Síochána, Mr O'Dea said 'It was just general chit chat,' 'I passed it on - I shouldn't have passed it on.'

'I have made a bad mistake, I've paid heavily for it, I am sorry, I am contrite, I've apologised, I apologised again ... I don't know what else I can do.'

'I say things that I don't really mean sometimes in the heat of battle.'
There are a few things raised by that. Firstly, the problem was not just with what O'Dea said in the heat of battle (or the squalor of an electoral dogfight), it was also with what he, a qualified lawyer, said in a considered, carefully drafted, and solemnly sworn affidavit placed before the High Court. It was, at best, a serious lapse of judgment.

Secondly, what information was passed to O'Dea by the Gardaí, who exactly provided it to him, and on what authority was the information given to O'Dea? Was it official intelligence given to him in his capacity as Minister for Defence? If so, why was he revealing it to a reporter? Was he at liberty to reveal Garda intelligence or should he have respected the confidentiality of official intelligence rather than seeking to deploy it for party-political electoral ends? If on the other hand (although O'Dea appears to want to have it both ways), it was mere chit-chat then why is he talking about information received from An Garda Síochána, and - again - why and by whom was Garda intelligence being passed to him as chit-chat?

He said he forgot making certain remarks: perhaps on mature recollection he'll remember that he's not the first Irish politician to have been caught out by a tape recorder.

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