LIMERICK TD AND FORMER MINISTER Willie O’Dea has dismissed criticism of his return to the Fianna Fáil front bench, saying he had paid a high price “politically and financially” for swearing an affidavit denying he had made defamatory remarks about Maurice Quinlivan.
O’Dea resigned from his post as Minister of Defence in February 2010 after it emerged he had sworn an incorrect affidavit in the High Court the year before.
The sworn statement was made during a High Court case taken by Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan. Although O’Dea accepted he had made certain statements to a Limerick newspaper regarding Quinlivan, he denied making further unpublished comments.
A tape recording of those comments subsequently emerged and was released by the Limerick Leader. In December 2009, RTÉ reported that O’Dea apologised to Quinlivan for making defamatory statements and paid damages and costs to him.
The DPP decided in July that there was no criminal case against O’Dea following allegations of perjury.
Yesterday, when Micheál Martin announced his new front bench, O’Dea was named the party’s new spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, O’Dea said that the Quinlivan statement had been investigated thoroughly and there was no case to answer.
He said it would be very unfair if he was to continue to suffer for it for the rest of his life, particularly as his name had been cleared in that detailed investigation. He also said he was surprised to be offered a front bench position by Martin, but was glad to do it if his expertise could help the party through the coming election.
Look, I made a mistake and I paid for it very heavily, financially and politically… I paid the price in terms of politics and finance and we’ll move on from there.