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Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week February 28, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in media.
29 comments

John Drennan’s description of Aer Lingus is certainly worthy of a place in the top three.

And while Mary Coughlan must go, it is difficult to see how replacing her with some beardless youth will allow us to take on vicious interest groups such as the Dublin Airport Authority and Aer Lingus.

In second place, Marc Coleman’s description of last December’s budget will doubtless shock many public sector workers

That Budget hurt like hell and many are hopping mad over it. But it hurt across the board and the man who implemented it, who himself is battling with cancer, is seen as doing right by the country, and as turning things around.

In first place, Brendan O’Connor, who reminds us that the political system in the Republic is flawed. We can all agree there. His answer though is simply baffling in the midst of a crisis created by the most fundamental flaws in the neo-liberal version of capitalism.

Fortunately for our politicians, there is a whole other culture in this country that operates very differently to politics and that is primed and geared to deal with the rapidly changing world we live in. It is a culture that moves fast, that thinks laterally, that takes risks, that has imagination and bravery and vision. It deals with catastrophe — and the prospect of becoming obsolete — all the time. In fact, in exactly the same way that the culture of politics seems specifically designed not to deal with the reality we face right now, the culture of enterprise in this country is designed to suit current reality to a tee.

Not part of stupid statement of the week, but worth reading Willie O’Dea’s column, where he reflects on his resignation.

Interview with Paul Gogarty February 27, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Uncategorized.
7 comments

Yep, another Mail interview, this one conducted by Jason O’Toole which allows Paul Gogarty an opportunity to wax lyric:

In a colourful remark, that could add further strain to the fragile coalition, he
contradicts Brian Cowen’s claim about Willie O’Dea’s departure, openly admitting:
‘Yeah, it was a political execution. I would be quite blunt about that. He was given a good trial, a fair hearing. He was tottering around wounded, someone needed to shoot him in the head.
‘The execution of Willie O’Dea wasn’t a moral execution, it wasn’t a legal execution, it was a political execution. And what built it into a political execution was the manner in which he conveyed himself in the Dáil.’ Referring to an interview the former defence minister gave on RTÉ radio and an article in the Limerick Leader, he said: ‘The portrayal of himself as a victim in the interview, and then – after promising to us that he’d be vindicated in an article,
and the article didn’t do anything to vindicate him – the manner in which he portrayed himself was out of order.’

Hmmm. Interesting.

Though Mr Gogarty believes he was ‘personally shafted’ by Fianna Fáil on a promise of a junior ministry, he does not blame them for leaking the letter to a garda that forced Mr Sargent to quit.
He says: ‘My gut tells me it’s in some- one’s interest for us to fall out with Fianna Fáil. It could be Fine Gael’s interest or Labour’s. It could be the gardaí cheesed off over public service pay cuts. On the balance of probability, it’s a Fine Gael sympathiser rather
than a Fianna Fáil minister.’

Dan Boyle comes into view…

‘I have to say straight out, it was wrong of Dan to issue his Twitter when he did because we could’ve still ended up coming to the same conclusion without having added pressure on us.

And that junior ministry?

[ GP deputy leader], Mary White, will probably get Mr Sargent’s food and horticulture portfolio, but says Fianna Fáil reneged on a promise of a second junior ministerial position, to which he would be particularly suited. He explains: ‘We trusted Fianna Fáil to honour their agreement with the junior ministries but they didn’t.
It’s always in the gift of the Taoiseach in any event, but the understanding with Bertie Ahern
was that if there was an extra junior ministry it would be in the education area. So, that would have been tailor-made for me. Yes, I do feel personally shafted. It mightn’t necessarily have been me appointed, but it was in an area that I had a level of experience built up.’

And…

Deputy Gogarty says he came close to resigning from the Government last year, and insists he will ‘walk’ by the end of this year if promised legislation to ban corporate donations isn’t introduced,

As for FG and SF…

However he has reserved his greatest wrath for Enda Kenny, accusing
him of being untruthful for denying he approached the Greens to sound out
Sinn Féin about a coalition after the 2007 general election.
He declares: ‘I think Enda Kenny will end up having to resign as party leader because of that little booboo. He asked Trevor to speak to Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin because he didn’t have the courage to approach him himself. On foot of an interview with the Mail a year ago, the media found out that Enda had rung Trevor asking would he contact Sinn Féin about an alternative administration and now Enda is casting aspersions on Trevor’s good
name.
‘I’m really p***** off with Enda Kenny over blackening Trevor’s name.

Oh, there’s more…

This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… The Shamen February 27, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
12 comments

If you happened in 1992 to catch Ebeneezer Goode by the Shamen and thought… ‘well, that was bloody irritating’, you might be right. Up to a point. But… there was always a bit more to the Shamen than one irritating, and irritatingly hook laden, single. Because if that song shot their credibility for legions of music listeners for quite some time it also obscured the fact that they were a vastly more experimental and in some respect more intriguing proposition than the antics of rapper Mr. C suggested.

Indeed one could make an argument that long before Primal Scream met one A. Weatherall… well, a year or two anyhow, they forged a path away from psychedelic indie straight into the heart of house, rave and dance. Listen to the house inflections of their early singles and there is a missing link, if not the missing link. Arpeggiated keyboards, ‘uplifting’ lyrics, none too ambiguous references to drugs – and one drug in particular.

And all of this encapsulated on an album ‘In Gorbachev we Trust’, from 1989, which depicted the man himself in a crown of thorns surrounded by a most interesting collage… now one suspects that their politics wasn’t that deep, perhaps best typified by ‘Jesus Loves Amerika’ which tackles fundamentalism in the US (natch). And one knows that ecstasy was top of their priorities, from the more song like compositions like Adam Strange and Raspberry Infundibulum to the more experimental house like tracks like Transcendental.

Which is not to say it was a work of utter genius. It’s far too underproduced, there’s too much space between the beats and the keyboards, the vocals are too weak. But somehow all those flaws combine to make it a fascinating and evocative selection of tracks.

Two years later and much had changed. On a video shoot in Tenerife, Will Sinnott, bassist, vocalist and keyboardist, drowned. Somehow they muddled on transforming – or developing – into the band which produced Ebeneezer Goode.

I’ve thrown in Omega Amiga, because although a little later that shifts them towards their eventual destination, and it’s a cracking track in its own right (mind you, so is Move Any Mountain which despite it’s cheese quotient I’ve also thrown in… and so are a heap of tracks off Boss Drum which I haven’t) – and reading the YouTube comments I learn that the sample ‘my time is yours’ is from the movie THX1138.

Almost brilliant.

Transcendental

Synergy (is that the doors of the Enterprise I hear in the background? Perhaps, but that is most definitely the line “M D M A-zing… we are together in ecstasy”)

Jesus Loves Amerika

Omega Amigo

Move Any Mountain (12″ Paul Oakenfold remix)

‘This is incredible stuff’ – Enda Kenny ain’t far wrong there. The confidence debate in Willie O’Dea, last week. February 27, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
15 comments

I’m not sure how many of you have read this debate… I only got a chance to look at it one evening this week… but I’d have to agree with Enda Kenny, ‘…this is incredible stuff’. Perhaps most astounding is the intervention of a sitting Minister… you’ll know who he is… throughout the process. The confidence, no arrogance, on the FF side is quite something to see. They clearly had little doubt but that O’Dea would win the day.

Take it away, the first chamber…

By the by, as noted by Wednesday last week, you will search in vain for some names on the Níl voting list…

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom I move:

That Dáil Éireann has complete confidence in the Minister for Defence, Deputy Willie O’Dea.

These are challenging times, possibly the most challenging facing any Government for decades, and the progress of many projects and plans will be subject to constraints on resources. Following on from the difficult decisions we took in the budget and the Estimates, and the review of the programme for Government, we now have a clear agenda going forward.

In the Department of Defence, the priority for the year ahead is to ensure that the Defence organisations maintain the capability to deliver on all of the roles assigned by Government. At the outset, I want to express my complete confidence, and that of the Government, in the Minister for Defence to continue to do his job.

In the midst of the worst global recession since the 1930s, arresting the decline in the strength of the Defence Forces and reaching the recently approved PDF strength of 10,000 will be achieved through prioritised recruitment, with the overarching focus remaining on the operations requirements of the Defence Forces. We are also committed to preparing a new defence White Paper for the period 2011-20 as we plan for the future. I believe the Minister for Defence, with his experience, his ability and his work ethic, is the best person to undertake this work.

I want to avail of the time this motion affords us to outline the massive contribution Deputy O’Dea has made in the Department of Defence. Before I do that, I want to put the Opposition’s attack on the Minister in context. Its criticism of him does not arise from anything he has done in the course of his duties as Minister for Defence. I have heard people on the Opposition benches openly try to propagate the myth that the Minister is in breach of the Cabinet code of conduct, as set out in the handbook. This is once again a case of political discourse from the Opposition benches generating more heat than light. The matter of current controversy did not pertain to Deputy O’Dea’s responsibilities as a Minister in the Government. It did not pertain to Government policies in any way, shape or form and had nothing to do with his function in the Department of Defence.

The facts are now well known. As the Minister said to the House yesterday, on 21 December a defamation action, taken against the Minister by Sinn Féin Councillor Maurice Quinlivan on foot of remarks made by the Minister in a local Limerick newspaper interview, was mutually agreed and settled in the High Court. As part of that settlement, a statement was read out in court which containing the following paragraph: “It is not suggested by Mr. Quinlivan that Mr. O’Dea acted other than innocently in making such denial and he accepts that there was no intention to mislead on the part of Mr. O’Dea”. The Minister for Defence has acknowledged that his recollection of the interview in his original affidavit was wrong and he corrected his mistake when he realised it. He admitted and apologised for this mistake and agreed a settlement in which the other party fully accepted that there was no intention to mislead. The matter was a personal one between him and the local Sinn Féin representative concerned. It was dealt with and resolved in open court over two months ago and the matter is closed.

Clearly, it does not serve the Oireachtas well for people to throw around or imply ill-founded allegations of perjury in a coarse attempt to secure political advantage. Let us be clear, perjury does not arise here and it is despicable that some have suggested it does.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information Zoom On a point of order, will the Taoiseach’s script be circulated?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom It will be circulated. My understanding is that where there is no intention to mislead and the matter is corrected as soon as possible, there is no question of perjury. The position is that for perjury to occur a person must know the statement to be false or not believe it to be true. Perjury in Ireland is governed by common law as the British Act of 1911 governing it never applied to Ireland. That Act is clear that a person has to give evidence which he “knows to be false or does not believe to be true”. This formula has been also used in Irish statutes. Thus it is clear that perjury contrary to common law would also not arise where someone was mistaken.

The approach being taken by the Opposition parties indicates that they are once again trying to take the low road to high office. Their intent on a no confidence motion is completely spurious in both timing and motivation.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information Zoom It is the standards which apply on the Government side that are under discussion.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom On the issue of timing, Deputy Kenny informed the House yesterday that he found it “truly astonishing that two months after an issue in respect of a Cabinet Minister became public knowledge the Taoiseach did nothing about it. This is a matter of the most serious import.” Who is the Deputy trying to fool?

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom Who is the Taoiseach trying to fool?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom If he was of the view that this matter was of the most serious import why did he not raise it with me when the Dáil resumed last month? Why did he not demand a statement from either me or the Minister for Defence before now? Why are we debating the matter this week? Is it as a result of the traumas Deputy Kenny and his party endured last week?

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information Zoom We are discussing it because this is the Parliament.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom Is the Leader of Fine Gael trying to divert attention from his crisis by foisting a drama on to somebody else?

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom What crisis?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom Is he tabling motions of no confidence because he is afraid that if he does no another party will and that he will once again be seen as being behind the curve?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom I will tell the Taoiseach one thing——

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom Fine Gael’s posturing about a motion of no confidence is completely spurious and is merely a diversion.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom This is a hangar six shot.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom It is a hangover from the hangar.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom That party’s intent to seek the resignation of the Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea, is indicative of a growing tendency within the Opposition that focuses on personality rather than on politics. It is sad that once again their approach amounts to playing the man rather than the ball. Rather than be out-done in the sham indignation stakes by Deputy Gilmore, Deputy Kenny has chosen to join him in taking the old discredited Labour approach of seeking “heads in baskets”.

The Opposition’s eagerness for a motion of no confidence is premised not on the implementation or the administration of the programme for Government commitments on defence, but rather on Deputy Kenny’s promise to his parliamentary party in the aftermath of the George Lee debacle that “what I’m going to do now is be myself”.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom The Taoiseach should deal with the issue.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom The waste of valuable hours of Dáil debate on an unnecessary and unjustified motion of no confidence, at a time when there are real and pressing issues to be addressed, owes more to Deputy Kenny’s need to prove to his Members that he is, in the words of Deputy Coveney, “up to the job” than it does to any real concern or reservation regarding the running and administration of the Department of Defence.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom This is about one of the Taoiseach’s Ministers, not about one of my party’s members.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom I wish to say unequivocally that I am happy to affirm complete confidence in the Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea. I have the utmost confidence in his abilities and in his capacity to do his job. On my election as Taoiseach it was my privilege to reappoint him as Minister for Defence. Deputy O’Dea has served in that role with distinction and his track-record is second to none. While achievement and ability to do the job obviously count for little to some, I believe the people of this country are fairer minded. They recognise achievement and they know that people sometimes make mistakes. Everyone is in favour of accountability in public office but when people make a genuine mistake which has nothing to do with their official duties and where they have moved to quickly correct that mistake——

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information Zoom Who decided that he made a genuine mistake?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom ——and have settled the matter with the aggrieved party, I do not see why I should listen to the usual, predictable calls from the Opposition to remove from office arguably the best, the most efficient and the hardest-working Minister for Defence to serve the country in recent times.

Members of the Opposition are more interested in innuendo and stirring up controversy than in people’s political records.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom What about the facts?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom I would like to spend some time balancing those books and pointing out that I have the utmost confidence in Deputy O’Dea, who has shown real skills in overseeing the continued modernisation of the Defence Forces and bringing about significant progress across a broad range of areas.

A Deputy: He is the artful dodger.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom The McCarthy report acknowledged the ongoing modernisation in defence and this is the vein in which I want to see the Minister continue during the period ahead. It is worth pointing out some of the many achievements of Deputy O’Dea as Minister for Defence. He has placed great priority on acquiring equipment and rationalising military barracks. The investment he has overseen has led to an improvement in Defence Forces equipment and resulted in the high level of morale among their members.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom The Taoiseach should appoint him as Tánaiste.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom I wish to share time with the Ministers for Finance and Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputies Brian Lenihan and Ryan. I make the point that whether it is in respect of overseas peace support, the development of the medical corps or the involvement of Defence Forces personnel in cash escorts, the Minister has always acted competently.

In highlighting the Minister’s achievements and his ongoing programme of work, it is worth considering that in the past two years Fine Gael’s spokesman on defence has put forward only three suggestions which differ from those of the Government in respect of defence policy. The number rises to four if one includes the idea put forward by Deputy Kenny in the run-up to the 2007 general election that we should establish Army-run boot camps.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Perhaps Deputy O’Dea could spend a little time in such a camp.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The Taoiseach is scoring heavily now.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Another Flannery idea.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom The first of the three policy differences to which I refer relates to the triple lock. Unlike the other main political parties — Fianna Fáil, Labour, the Green Party — and the key independents, Fine Gael is committed to abandoning the letter and the spirit of the triple lock of Government, Dáil and UN approval before Irish troops serve overseas. The idea most consistently pursued by Fine Gael is to have the Army drill and fitness instructors deployed in schools to teach PE. That party has also suggested that we replicate the New Zealand model of defence forces administration——

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom This speech was not written by the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom ——which would require us to more than double the number of people working in defence administration from just over 600 to over 1,400.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom Did the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, write the Taoiseach’s speech?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom It is clear that Fine Gael has little to contribute to discourse on defence policy.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Where are the Green Party members of Government?

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom Fine Gael’s approach is to try to drag down the Minister and inflict whatever damage it can on the Government to disguise from its lack of ideas and policy.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom Did Deputy Gormley write that speech?

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Send for the Green Party.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom This Government is not going to bow to those cheap tactics. We have full confidence in the Minister for Defence and we look forward to him continuing to serve the Government and the people.

4 o’clock

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan): Information Zoom This matter was raised in the Upper House on Tuesday, 2 February last, and has been in the public domain since then. It was raised by a Senator affiliated to the main Opposition party on the occasion to which I refer. It is now Wednesday, 17 February. Therefore, the enormous sound and fury we have heard from the Fine Gael benches in recent days did not begin on 2 February when the matter was first raised. It was not considered a matter of moment, although it was raised by a member of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Tuesday, 2 February.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information Zoom What is the Minister’s point?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Yes, what is his point?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom In the past few days, however, it has suddenly become a matter of immense moment.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom This is the case because of the discomfiture of the Opposition at the departure of former Deputy George Lee. That is why the matter is of immense moment now.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom I thought the Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan, was a statesman.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom It was of no moment on 2 February and was fit to be left floating on the Seanad’s Order of Business on that day. In recent days, however, it has been raised.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom The Minister for Defence raised it himself on Sunday last.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Given that it has been raised, let us deal with the issues involved. There are two crucial issues that arise. The first of these, as has been already outlined by the Taoiseach, is that this entire dispute came to light in the course of a civil proceeding between two individuals before the courts.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom One of whom is a Minister.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Correct. However, being a Minister gives him no special position as a litigant in a court house.

Deputy Damien English: Information Zoom He just makes the law.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom He does not change the law in the course of an action. The law that applied to him in that action also applied to the other party to it.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information Zoom The Government whip is going——

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom This was a civil matter which went before the courts and which was brought to a conclusion. Such matters are brought to a conclusion on the basis of both a settlement and the differences of the parties being reconciled.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom What did it cost?

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information Zoom The Minister should keep talking.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom The other party to the action did not in any way refer to this earlier affidavit or suggest that he was compromised in respect of that affidavit.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom He got the lump sum.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom The matter was settled to the satisfaction of the two parties involved. That is their conclusion. As far as the public interest is concerned——

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom It did not happen.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom The public interest in this matter — with one exception with which I will deal in a moment — ended when the case was settled.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom No, it did not.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom The exception to which I refer is the position Deputy O’Dea holds as a Minister and whether his conduct in court in some way undermined that.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information Zoom Deputy O’Dea swore an oath.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom I must make the point that this was a civil action in which no public interest, other than and with the exception of that one matter, remained outstanding when the matter was brought to a conclusion.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom What was the nature of the settlement?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Questions have been raised, not in this House but elsewhere, that the earlier hearing before the High Court on the application for the injunction was in some way compromised or prejudiced by the existence of this statement in the affidavit. In fact, this had no bearing on the matter. Due to the fact that Deputy O’Dea disavowed the allegation, there was no need to give an injunction.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom The Minister should remember that he is in the Dáil.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom The order was made and the other party was never prejudiced because Deputy O’Dea — everyone must accept this — never repeated the allegation.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information Zoom Where are the Greens?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information Zoom There is no sign of them.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Let us deal with the principal question that has been raised in an ugly and unpleasant way in recent days. The word “perjury” was used in the Upper House and it has been used very freely in the newspapers. The fact is that perjury occurs only when an intentional misleading occurs.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Everyone in this House is aware of that. However, the word “perjury” has been insinuated into the debate and people have nodded and winked in its direction. That has been the approach of Opposition speakers at a time when this country faces far more serious difficulties.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom It is an abuse of public life to have this type of debate even in progress. Deputy Kenny leads the Fine Gael Party; I challenge him to produce any evidence he has that Deputy O’Dea intentionally misled anybody.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom The tape is the evidence.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom There is no such evidence.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information Zoom Who is the judge on that?

Deputy Damien English: Information Zoom That is unbelievable

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom We heard his explanation yesterday evening. It is an explanation in which he plainly advanced all the reasons he made an honest mistake.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Why did he pay money?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Either he made an honest mistake or——

(Interruptions).

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom ——he intentionally misled but there is no evidence that he intentionally misled——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom What about the tape?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom ——and to date in this debate the Opposition has not produced a shred of evidence that he intentionally misled anyone on this court proceeding. The Opposition does not have any evidence of this but it constantly insinuates that in some sense he is guilty of an offence which he never committed.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Why did he pay compensation so?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Deputy Kenny cannot act, and this morning his spokesperson suggested that the Director of Public Prosecutions might have some role in this matter but there is no evidence being given to the Director of Public Prosecutions on this matter. What we have in this whole political saga is an attempt by Fine Gael to operate as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. We are not having it.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom Fianna Fáil is worried about the Sunday newspapers.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information Zoom I am speaking on behalf of the Green Party to set out how we see the issue. The Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea, has spoken to our party and set out his version of events——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom Is the Green Party happy with it?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——and we followed, with everyone else——

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Which version?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——the various events as reported.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom Is that why Senator de Búrca left?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom It can be only on the basis of what one sees there that one makes a judgment and assessment.

The facts are clear. They have been gone through and I am sure they will be gone through further. Those facts are the original interview in the Limerick Chronicle following allegations of improper use of civil servants for political work; the allegations during the course of the interview regarding the use of the property by the people in question; the fact that the journalist then contacted those people——

Deputy Damien English: Information Zoom The Minister has lost his confidence.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——and asked for comment and they threatened legal action against the newspaper which led to publication of a clarification by the newspaper; and the seeking of a High Court injunction against Deputy Willie O’Dea seeking that he would stop spreading allegations, as I see it——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom Which side is the Minister on?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom In April last year the High Court refused an injunction on the basis of a strong denial by Deputy O’Dea that he was spreading allegations; and in June 2009 the person in question was elected to Limerick City Council and pursued a defamation action against Deputy O’Dea who filed an affidavit repeating his denial.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom A lapse.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom This led to the discovery of a tape of the interview which showed that the Minister had made such allegations. The crucial matter, as I understand it——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom The Minister’s understanding is not great.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——is that at that point the Minister acknowledged that he had mistakenly stated he had not made the allegations——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom When he got caught.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom Why would he do that?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——and that he had relied in making such an affidavit on the published interview and in December 2009——

(Interruptions).

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Get your gun now, Willie.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Allow the Minister to continue without interruption.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——a High Court judge ruled that the case was settled with damages and costs paid by Deputy O’Dea to the person in question. Deputy O’Dea also withdrew and apologised for the wrongful allegations——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom Do you think that is all right?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——which apology, as I understand, was accepted by the other party——

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom It is not about the other party.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——who also accepted that the earlier affidavit had been a mistake——

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom Fianna Fáil is laughing at you.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——and was not an attempt to mislead. That is the crucial issue; when there was a mistake in the affidavit and something that was not true, it was acknowledged in court, dealt with in court, accepted by the other party and reported in the media as such. It was quite some time ago and I do not have the exact details.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom What would you say if you were in Opposition?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom As I see it that is the case——

Deputy Damien English: Information Zoom Sit down.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom ——and the circumstances have been set out and I do not hear any disagreement.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom You are uncomfortable and squirming.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom They are bringing you down to their level.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom In those circumstances, our job in Government is to get on with the crucial issues that face this country and to start providing the jobs that were mentioned earlier on. That is the crucial task that we have in government.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom I am happy that is what we should be concentrating on, confident that the Government can and will deliver on those jobs having delivered on the change to our budget and banking system, which will also help provide an economic turnaround.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom What a day for the Green Party.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom The Green Party will save one job anyway — Willie’s.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom That is what the public is looking for us to do. That is what we intend to do in Government and will continue to do for the betterment of the country.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom More soldiers so.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information Zoom No credibility. Is that how one can get out of perjury, by stating that one made a mistake?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom I will share time with Deputies Michael D’Arcy and Brian Hayes.

This is not an untypical response from the Fianna Fáil Party. This is not about Deputy Willie O’Dea; it is about the standards employed by the Taoiseach and the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom Your standards.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The Taoiseach’s predecessor eloquently stated from the seat in which the Taoiseach is sitting that Fianna Fáil’s ethics are to get in here and stay in here at all costs. Those are the ethics of the party the Taoiseach leads.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information Zoom Nothing changes.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The good people of Limerick have elected that Deputy for many years, as is their absolute right. However, he is not sitting over there just as a Deputy; he is sitting there as an appointed Cabinet Minister, an officer of the court and a constitutional seal of office holder. As such, standards in that office must be of the highest integrity at a time when politics is in a deep depression of cynicism because of carryon over the years. This is not just about Deputy O’Dea; it is about standards at ministerial level, the highest level of political office in the land which the Taoiseach oversees. The response I heard from him and the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform aided by the present Minister in defending this makes the matter even worse.

The reason for this debate is that a Minister in the Taoiseach’s Government, who also happens to be a trained barrister, swore a false affidavit before the High Court and corrected it only when he was caught out on a tape.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Hear, hear.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom That is not true.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom It is true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Kenny, without interruption.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom It is not a case of a simple mistake.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom What about standards?

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom Stick to the facts.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The last time Deputy O’Dea was caught out on a tape was when he defended his position and his party’s position to the taxi men of Limerick——

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Remember that, Willie?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom ——only to understand when it was played back to him that what he said when he came out was different from what he said inside.

The facts are these and the Minister from the Green Party should bear them in mind because I will quote him some of his words in a few minutes. The Minister, Deputy O’Dea, told an untruth about another person. It was not a political charge but an accusation that someone was involved in serious criminal activity, namely, operating a brothel. When he was challenged on that false claim, he swore a further untruth, that he had never made the original accusation. Because of that dishonest affidavit, a court refused to grant an order that would have corrected the original claim of criminal activity. In other words, the second highest court in the land made a decision based on the sworn testimony of a Cabinet Minister which was false. It was only when he was presented with irrefutable proof of his own voice and his own deceit that he corrected this false affidavit and made a settlement payment to the person he had wrongly accused.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Untrue.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom Clear cut.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom First he stated this was a mistake. If the Minister is so used to making allegations like this that he cannot remember one specific instance then the Cabinet and the Government really have a bigger problem. If the Minister, Deputy O’Dea believed what he told that journalist then he should have gone to the Garda Síochána and reported it in the first instance.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom They reported it to me.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The notion that any normal human being can say to a journalist “That man runs a brothel” and then forget that he said it when part of it was in print in the newspaper the following day just beggars belief.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom He is blaming the Garda now.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It was never in print.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The second defence put forward was that both the slander and the false affidavit to the High Court were perpetrated by Willie O’Dea, private citizen, not Willie O’Dea, Minister.

Invisible hairs are being split here. A belief in the capacity to separate private impropriety from public office now appears to be standard operating procedure for Fianna Fáil in Government. We heard precisely the same logic from the Taoiseach’s predecessor when he stated in regard to his Manchester whip-round that despite the fact that he was Minister for Finance at the time, he was Bertie Ahern, private citizen, when he was handed £15,000 in a brown envelope.

The Taoiseach’s defence of his Minister comes straight from Fianna Fáil’s code of operations. He claimed the Minister broke no code of ministerial ethics. The reason he broke no code is because some things are so obviously unethical that it would be laughable to include them in the code in the first place. For example, one would think the sentence: “Do not lie to the High Court” is redundant to a code of ministerial conduct.

The Taoiseach failed to answer specific questions regarding the steps he took in the two months since the issue was brought to his attention. His colleague is involved in a matter of importance. Equally, we have no indication that another Minister attempted to seek an explanation for these events. This is about the Minister as distinct from the Deputy. It appears that it was not an issue for anyone in this Government until it became the subject of an editorial in a national newspaper yesterday. That the Taoiseach and the Minister for Defence define their ethics by the specific warnings of a code of conduct rather than by a moral compass points to a lack of morality which is endemic to their party and which smears the good name of every Member of this House by association.

The vote before us is simple. If Deputies believe it is wrong for a Minister to tell an untruth in a sworn affidavit in the High Court, they can have no confidence in the Minister for Defence. If they believe it is appropriate for a Minister to swear a false and defamatory affidavit in the High Court, they can vote their support for him and, by doing so, define publicly their own political morality. These are the questions that must be answered by Fianna Fáil and Green Party Members when they vote on this issue.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government gave the following address on 24 February 2007:

It’s great to be back in Galway. I came down on the overcrowded train. . .there’s a strange cult called Fianna Fáil, a type of religion without vision or values; and every year in August they go on their annual pilgrimage to one of their sacred sites, the tent at the Galway races, where they pay homage to their gods and the gods bestow them with gifts for doing their bidding. . .The Green Party wants high standards in high places. . .

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom It is not getting them.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom He continued:

. . .not because we are particularly virtuous, but because strong ethical standards improve the quality of our democracy. We do it because we recognise that there are now three Governments in this country — the permanent Government, which is the civil service; the present Government, if you can call it that, consisting of the PDs and Fianna Fáil; and the real Government which are the gods in the Ballybrit tent…We will introduce the strictest ethical standards ever seen in this country.

Three years on, the Green Party now has the chance to live up to these words.

On 12 November 1996, speaking on a motion of no confidence in the then Minister for Justice, Deputy O’Dea, stated:

If accountability means anything, blame must sometimes be taken and consequences sometimes ensue in the absence of knowledge and, therefore, in the absence of culpability in that sense. If that were not the position nobody would ever have to resign because, however great the disaster, it could never be proved as a definitive fact that a Minister had actual as opposed to constructive knowledge.

Here speaks a trained barrister and a supremely confident and energetic politician who knows the law of the land. He now serves not only as a back bench Deputy but also as one of the highest officers of the State in his position of Minister for Defence. How can anyone stand over this situation?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information Zoom Deputy Kenny has not produced a shred of evidence.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The former and current Ministers for Justice, Equality and Law Reform are defending this state of affairs around the Cabinet table.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom With pride.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom It would not happen in any other Parliament.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom It is ironic——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Unlike Fine Gael Members we do not assassinate people, such as poor old George last week.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom You have a lifetime’s experience of it.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The last time an issue involving a tape was raised was in the case of the good father of the Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom He was used for a couple of months and then he was thrown away.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Allow Deputy Kenny to continue.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom I put it to the House that the Minister, Deputy O’Dea——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom The greatest character assassination was carried out by his colleagues after George left last Monday.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is supposed to stand over high standards.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom It was a character assassination and now he is at it again.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom It is not simply about the Minister, Deputy O’Dea. This is an act of criminality against the laws of the State which the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is supposed to uphold and the Taoiseach is supposed to implement.

The Taoiseach: Information Zoom Nonsense.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom As I said the other day, he is returning to type.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom For what it is worth——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Guttersnipe politics.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Where is gorgeous George?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Members, please——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom You got rid of him just because he did not suit your purposes.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom You have no class.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom You threw him to the wolves.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Dermot Ahern, please allow Deputy Kenny to continue without interruption.

Deputy Shane McEntee: Information Zoom Deirdre de Búrca was right.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Neither the Minister for Defence nor any other Minister would have lasted five minutes in a Government of which I was a Member.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Or any other Government.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom What about the money in the off-shore accounts? What a hypocrite you are.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Gather the wagons around the Minister for Defence. Fianna Fáil’s ethics are get in here and stay in here, regardless of whether one makes a false affidavit and corrects it when found out by tape.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom That is why Deputy Kenny took it out on George.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom It makes no difference whether one is a Minister as long as the “FF, we rule” imprint is on one’s heart. The law it makes, the law it breaks. The Minister, Deputy O’Dea, broke it as a Deputy and as Minister. He said it was an honest mistake but the person opposite me cannot be divided into Deputy, citizen and Minister. He is the Holy Trinity in one.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom He knows he is wrong——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Deputy Kenny departed from his script.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom ——and all the other Ministers recognise that too.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom For God’s sake, sit down.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Three in one.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Be yourself for a change.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom A serious and fundamental issue of standards has arisen but Ministers will not oversee or implement these standards. When the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, casts his vote this evening, he should remember his standards and the words of his absent leader.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Iris Robinson was fired for less.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Between yesterday’s statement by the Minister for Defence and today’s statement’s by the Taoiseach, an important intervention was made. The Official Report will show that the Minister, Deputy Willie O’Dea, intervened while the leader of my party, Deputy Enda Kenny, was speaking. He indicated in the course of the debate that the Garda informed him about the alleged incident and the owners of the property concerned. The Official Report will show that. If he obtained this information from the Garda, the question that inevitably follows is why exactly he settled. Why did he not put it in his statement or affidavit? Why did he not inform the House of that fact yesterday?

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom He forgot that too.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Did the Minister forget that as well?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The information was wrong.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Is he now denying that in an intervention to the leader of my party, Deputy Kenny, he suggested that the information came from the Garda Síochána? Is that a fact?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Indeed it is.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Why exactly did he not put that in his affidavit?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It turned out to be wrong.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Blame everybody else but yourselves.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Brian Hayes, without interruption.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Now it is the fault of the Garda Síochána. This is some turn-up for the books. If ever we had a political Pinocchio, it has to be the Minister. This is getting worse by the minute. It means that he mislead the House yesterday. He did not put that information on the record yesterday. Why not? Why did he blurt it out today to save his political backside when he is up against the pressure of this debate?

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom Recollection deficit.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom That is his problem.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom We will soon have an opportunity to test the Deputy’s recollection.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom I wish to raise one other issue. The Minister made the original allegation on 10 March. On 14 April he signed a sworn affidavit to the courts. As a barrister, he is an officer of the court. He is a senior Cabinet Minister. That was four weeks later. It was not four months, years or decades. It was four weeks after he made the very serious allegations against the gentleman concerned. Why did he not check it out? Why did he not go back to check his sources? Why did he not go to all of the third parties concerned? All of this smells of Fianna Fáil circling the wagons.

I have a question for one member of the Government who is not present — I do not mind the Greens, they are hugely irrelevant in all of this anyway.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom They are gone anyway.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Where is Deputy Mary Harney, the person who built her career on trying to smoke out low standards in the Fianna Fáil Party?

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information Zoom She is fully, 100% behind the Minister, Deputy O’Dea.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom Good man Noel.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Does she support the concoction the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, gave to the House yesterday, of which the House has been given another version today? Sir, I put it to you that the House has no confidence in the Minister, Deputy O’Dea.

Deputy Niall Blaney: Information Zoom Deputy Hayes is clutching at straws.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom As Deputy Kenny said, this is a pattern of behaviour——

Deputy James Reilly: Information Zoom A culture.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom ——over many years. He has been found out for the fraud that he is.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information Zoom I compliment the Minister, Deputy Brian Lenihan. It is always a pleasure to watch a skilful lawyer defending the indefensible. The Minister, Deputy Ryan, dropped the ball. Not only that, he knocked it on. Every person in the Chamber can see his body language and that he does not believe one word from the Minister, Deputy O’Dea.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom The Deputy should look back on what I said and show me any inaccuracies. I will listen with interest.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Let him speak for himself.

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information Zoom The Minister had his moment. The Greens spoke about principles. Marx spoke about principles also — Groucho Marx. He said not to worry about those ones, we have others. The Green Party has none.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom We are trying to get this country out of its economic difficulties. We will continue to do that.

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information Zoom The Minister should be quiet.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom The Chair should protect the speaker.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom The Deputies opposite interrupted all the time.

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information Zoom We are here today as a result of the actions of the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, not Fine Gael. His actions against Councillor Maurice Quinlivan were slanderous. The Minister paid up because he was wrong. The Minister, Deputy O’Dea, got down in the political trench, picked up a ball of political mud and threw it at someone he considered to be an adversary. What has happened since then? Nothing more or less than a good old Irish-style cover up. Every person opposite will vote on the motion. They are voting for the continuation of the same old-style Irish politics that has been tarnished by Fianna Fáil for the past 25 years.

The Taoiseach said he would re-establish the primacy of this Chamber. They were his words. What we are seeing today is more of the same from the Bertie Ahern era that tarnished politics and every good Member of this House who works hard and does his or her best for the citizens of the State.

Let us remember another Minister in that position, namely, Ray Burke. We remember him drawing the line in the political sand and how he said no one should cross that line, and that he was telling the truth. He did not tell the truth. He lied, and so did the Minister, Deputy O’Dea. Shame on him. He has tarnished the Parliament, as always.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom I wish to share my time with Deputy Joan Burton.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom The Labour Party will support the motion of no confidence in the Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea. We will oppose the motion that has been proposed by the Taoiseach.

The Labour Party has no confidence in the Government as a collective entity or in the Ministers in their individual capacities. This is the Fianna Fáil Government that has brought this country to the brink of economic ruin.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Here we go.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom This is a Government that has allowed unemployment to climb to unprecedented levels and permitted emigration to return to levels not seen since the 1980s. This is a Government that has presided over massive job losses at Dell, in the constituency of the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, at Waterford Crystal and in many other plants without taking any meaningful action to try and save those jobs. This is a Government that failed to take the required action to save jobs at SR Technics and which has subsequently made such an absolute and utter mess of the offer by Ryanair to provide up to 500 highly skilled jobs at Dublin Airport.

This is a Fianna Fáil Government that remains totally indifferent in the face of a forecast from FÁS that the numbers out of work will increase by 87,000 in the coming year and a warning from the Irish Bank Officials’ Association that as many as 10,000 jobs could be lost in the banking sector.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information Zoom Deputy Gilmore is worrying about the banking sector very late in the day.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom It did nothing to even try to save the jobs in Bank of Scotland-Ireland. This is a Fianna Fáil Government that has placed a financial millstone around the necks of not just the current generation of taxpayers, but of Irish taxpayers for generations to come. This is a Government that wrote a blank cheque for the banks when it agreed in as yet unexplained circumstances on the night of 30 September 2009 to provide a guarantee for the banks, exposing the taxpayer to a potential liability of €440 billion.

This is the Government that manoeuvred to avoid a full parliamentary inquiry into the banking crisis, and instead forced through a private, behind closed doors limited inquiry that specifically excludes the events of 30 September 2009 from its limited terms of reference. This is the Fianna Fáil Government that in every year of its record since 1997 has placed the interests of bankers and developers above those of the ordinary taxpayer. This is the Government that has handed over €4 billion to Anglo Irish Bank and another €7 billion to AIB and Bank of Ireland. This is the Government, led by a Taoiseach who has indicated he is prepared to write any cheque, no matter what the cost, to rescue the bankers.

This is a Fianna Fáil Government whose determination to leave no stone unturned to bail out the developers is in stark contrast to its indifference to the tens of thousands of families who are living in fear of losing their homes because the breadwinner has lost his or her job. This is the Fianna Fáil government that has failed to provide people with the decent health service they deserve. Only last week the Comptroller and Auditor General reported that there had been a major increase in the number of people waiting more than 12 hours in accident and emergency units for admission in the first five months of 2009 when compared to the same period in 2008.

This is the Fianna Fáil Government that has taken the unprecedented step of cutting the welfare payments of the blind, widows and those with disabilities. This is the Government that has cut the pay of poorly paid public servants on two occasions in the past year. Faced with the choice of taking some extra tax from super-high earners, or hitting those on welfare or low pay, there is never any real issue for this Fianna Fáil Government.

Let us make no mistake about it; this is a Fianna Fáil Government and it is a misnomer to refer to it as anything else. It is not a coalition government in any accepted sense of the term. We know from the revealing statements made by former Senator De Búrca that Fianna Fáil has little regard for the Green Party, that it can casually renege on agreements made and is quite prepared, in the phrase attributed to the Minister, Deputy Gormley, to shaft the Greens whenever necessary.

This is a deadbeat Government led by a Taoiseach who failed to live up to even the low expectations of his opponents and which is made up of Ministers who are demoralised, disenchanted and disillusioned. They have nothing to offer people other than more years of bungling and incompetence. The best service they could now offer to the people is to submit themselves to the verdict of the electorate; allow for a change of government and direction; give others the opportunity to undo the damage they have caused; and clear the way for the process of recovery and reconstruction to begin.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom We will have the old Stickies in. Never.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom The Minister, Deputy O’Dea, as a member of the Cabinet must accept his share of the responsibility for the economic damage and social destruction that Fianna Fáil has wrought on the people. However, it is another matter, of enormous importance and significance that has led to the tabling of this motion of no confidence in the Minister.

Leaving aside the broader issues I referred to, there are two reasons I believe the House should now express no confidence in the Minister, Deputy O’Dea. The first is that he made an absolutely scurrilous and unfounded allegation about a political opponent in his constituency, an allegation that he was subsequently forced to admit was totally and utterly without foundation. The second is that he swore an affidavit that contained a blatant untruth. What was the allegation made by the Minister against Councillor Quinlivan? In his interview with the Limerick Chronicle Mr. O’Dea claimed that Councillor Quinlivan was involved in some way in the operation of a brothel in Limerick. “Do you know the brothel they found in his name and in his brother’s name down in Clancy Strand”, he asked the journalist conducting the interview. It is difficult to think of a more serious, more scurrilous and more potentially damaging allegation that could be made against a political opponent.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom During an election.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information Zoom What about printing money?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom In his personal explanation to the House last night, the Minister said, “I have never said that I lied on oath, as I was never on oath”.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I did not say that.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom However, an affidavit is sworn evidence, given on oath and is the equivalent of evidence given on oath in the witness box.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I did not say that.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom My understanding is that any person making a sworn affidavit to the High Court must do so in the presence of a Commissioner for Oaths. The commissioner then reads over the affidavit to the person making it who will then be asked to either agree or disagree with its content. If one agrees with its content, one takes the Bible in one’s right hand and swears to almighty God, or alternatively affirm, that the affidavit one has sworn is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom To the best of one’s knowledge, information and belief.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom The same rules of evidence must apply to everyone regardless of one’s rank or position in Irish society.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom It is perjury.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom The Minister wants us to examine his swearing a false affidavit only from the point where his barrister made an agreement with Councillor Quinlivan’s barrister — an agreement duly reported to the court. Councillor Quinlivan’s reasons for accepting an amount in damages and his costs in return for agreeing a settlement statement is entirely a matter for him. The issue that affects Deputy O’Dea’s fitness to be a Minister is why he swore a false affidavit to the court in the first place, which caused the court to dismiss Mr. Quinlivan’s application for an injunction to stop the Minister repeating his charge that Mr. Quinlivan was associated with running a brothel.

Deputy O’Dea swore he never made any such allegation. He maintained this position until the journalist to whom he had peddled this falsehood produced the tapes.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom That is a very incorrect version. It is a twisted version.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom It is twisted all right.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom Faced with incontrovertible evidence the Minister asks us to believe that he acknowledged his error. He forgot. How could be forget creeping around Limerick alleging a rival candidate was running a brothel?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The journalist knows whether I knew I was being taped or not.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom Is the Minister a member of the NUJ?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom How could anyone forget making such a charge?

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom He will get his P45 next week.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom Would any other Member stoop to making such a charge in the first place, if it were untrue? Is it acceptable behaviour for any Member, whether a Minister or not, to use a political campaign to slander a rival candidate and to implicate him in particularly grubby criminal behaviour?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom There was no campaign.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom Not only did Deputy O’Dea have no qualms about imputing criminal conduct to a political rival, he had no regard for the integrity of the journalist to whom he whispered his lies. Only when the journalist sought to defend his integrity by producing the tapes did the Minister remember his “mistake”.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom This is a distortion. This is typical stickie stuff. This is old stickie, Worker’s Party stuff.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom The only explanation for Deputy O’Dea forgetting that he called a rival a brothel keeper is that it is a pretty commonplace charge for him to make.

I am frankly amazed that the Taoiseach should seek to retain in Cabinet a man who wilfully committed perjury. If this happened in the neighbouring jurisdiction, a Cabinet Minister would not last until the end of the day. Deputy O’Dea is — as he is fond of telling us — a barrister and an officer of the court and he knows well the implications of swearing a false affidavit. Members of this House have ended up in the criminal courts for matters less grave than swearing a false affidavit. Loyalty can be an admirable quality but the Taoiseach’s loyalty to Deputy O’Dea in this instance undermines any claims that he will enforce decent standards in his Government.

Having listened to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, we can all now agree with former Senator de Búrca that she was right. The Green Party Ministers will dance to any and every Fianna Fáil tune. Is there anything that the two Green Ministers would not do to stay in office? The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources offered us a chronological description of what Deputy O’Dea said happened. Is the Green Party’s new standard to parrot Deputy O’Dea’s excuse? Where now are the high standards they called for so many times over the years?

I like the Green Party. I like its politics.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information Zoom The Deputy is on his own.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information Zoom Deputy Gilmore should look out behind him.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom Why is that not an unfamiliar feeling? It is one thing for the Taoiseach not to take the Green Party seriously and he has them not just as passengers but as hitchhikers in Government.

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information Zoom Mudguards.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Hitchbikers.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom The Taoiseach should stop humiliating them. I felt embarrassed for the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who the Taoiseach dragged into the House to say things he did not believe.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information Zoom To serve in office is not humiliating. If the Deputy was in Government, he might see that. It is with pride that one represents the people in Government. One never sees it as a humiliating experience. It is an honour to serve in Government.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom This is a disreputable chapter that will bring this House into disrepute if a majority in the House supports this kind of conduct by a Minister. What standards will apply in this House if a Minister can plead honest mistake because he supposedly forgot giving an interview connecting a political rival to brothel keeping?

Deputy O’Dea is not just any Minister. He has political responsibility for the Defence Forces which discharge certain security functions on behalf of the State. Deputy O’Dea was previously a Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, if my memory serves me correctly, was on occasions delegated the full functions of the office when the senior Minister was out of the country.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom For a day or so.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom That was enough.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom An allegation of having sworn a false affidavit would be a serious matter for any Minister. In the case of Deputy O’Dea the allegation is of such seriousness that it renders him unsuitable to hold the office he now occupies.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom I will quote from the transcript of the taped conversation for the benefit of those who may not have heard it. I wish, á la Richard Nixon, that Deputy O’Dea would agree to have the tape played because it must be extant.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom It would be a best-seller if the Minister put it on the market.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom Irish democracy deserves to hear the tenor and tone of the conversation, which was as follows:

“Willie O’Dea: . . .while occasionally we send out letters to planning applicants we have never been involved with anyone who shot anybody, or robbed banks, or kidnapped people. I suppose I’m going a bit too far when I say this but I’d like to ask Mr Quinlivan is the brothel still closed?”

Mike Dwane [the journalist]: Is the brothel still closed?

Willie O’Dea: Is the brothel still closed?

Mike Dwane: What brothel is that Willie?. . . ”

The Minister remembers it. He is smiling fondly in recollection.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom For what reason?

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom Will Deputy Burton get an Oscar for this refrain?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom The transcript continues:

“Willie O’Dea: Do you know the brothel they found in his name and in his brother’s name down in Clancy Strand?

Mike Dwane: I never heard about that.

Willie O’Dea: Did you not hear that? You better check your sources. There was a house owned by him that was rented out and they found two ladies of the night operating in there in the last couple of weeks”.

Limerick’s own Belle de Jour and Deputy O’Dea was familiar with it all.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom At least he was not found in the brothel.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom The transcript continues:

“Mike Dwane: Right. The other one I wanted to ask you about Willie was were you disappointed to see Noreen Ryan in the witness box?

Willie O’Dea: I don’t want to talk about that…”

We should hear that tape because it would sound fantastic

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom It would be a best-seller.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom I refer to Deputy O’Dea’s affidavit sworn on oath. He states, “I most categorically and emphatically deny that I said to Mr Dwane that the plaintiff was a part-owner of said apartment. I did not at any time say to any other person that the plaintiff had any ownership of the apartment. Neither did I say at any time to any person that the plaintiff had any involvement in the operation of the brothel”.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Perjury, pure and simple.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom In the view of most people who understand ordinary language, not senior counsel such as the Minister or the Minister for Finance, that was a lie, an untruth or a misstatement on oath and not a mistake. People have been taught from a young age about making a statement under oath. One barrister and two solicitors are sitting on the Government benches and, given all their extensive legal education and training, they know the system of oaths is fundamental to our system of justice, however nice and charming a Minister is and however fond the Green Party Ministers are of him or her. I can understand why the Green Party members are fond of the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, and why they might have a good relationship with him. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Ryan, spoke as though there was a large peg on his nose, but obviously the Green Party members are fond of the Minister.

Oaths are fundamental to our system of justice. If people actually lie on oath it is a serious matter.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom If they lie deliberately.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom He is taking counsel from the Minister of State, Deputy Roche, now.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom It is even more serious when it is done by a Government Minister who is also an officer of the court.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom After that they can forget it.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom Since Fianna Fáil returned to power in 2007, the economy has been destroyed and 60,000 people, most of them young, have emigrated. What are those young people who are left in the country, perhaps still in school, supposed to think about the standards of a Dáil in which a Minister can act as this Minister has done?

Everybody can make a mistake in life.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Except us.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom Everyone can make a statement that is misunderstood or wrongly taken up. That is why I wanted to read out what the Minister said to the journalist and what he then said in his affidavit. The commentary he made last night was along the lines of “I made an error, but I ‘fessed up and apologised”. Most people understand and appreciate that. However, given the kind of politician he has been in terms of his tremendous ability to win the confidence of the people of Limerick and his experience as a Minister in a series of different offices at senior and junior level, it is impossible to believe that he could have forgotten something as detailed as this.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom That is it. It is not credible.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I thank Deputy Burton for the compliment.

Deputy Damien English: Information Zoom No one believes the Minister.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom We understand that among Ministers in the Cabinet, the Minister for Defence is probably one of the more competent performers. I ask him not to try to tell us that his affidavit——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Faint praise.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom ——was some kind of misstatement. It was not. It was in fact a conscious action on his part——

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom On tape.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom ——to have the request for the injunction thrown out. We must bear in mind what was suggested by the Minister, Deputy Ryan, in his statement, although it is hard to hear a statement when the person making it has a big peg on his nose. From what I heard of the statement he read out at a gabble, he was suggesting that the fact that the settlement subsequently came before a judge was an indication that another court had somehow validated what the Minister had done. All the officers of the court opposite know that when a settlement goes before a judge, the judge receiving the settlement does not make any inquiries into affidavits or anything else; he or she is only concerned about receiving the settlement that was agreed between the parties.

The Green Party’s fig leaf that the courts and a second judge somehow stood over what was done by the Minister is entirely invalid and misleading. If that is what the Green Party is relying on, Déirdre de Búrca really said it all when she left last week. Even at this late hour, the Green Party should give some further consideration to its position. It should do this for the sake of the children of Ireland, who will hear that these are the standards accepted in the House with the Green Party’s stamp of approval. That is simply not good enough. This is dirty politics at its worst.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom That is correct.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom This is what happened years ago in places such as New Hampshire.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Gutter politics.

A Deputy: The Deputy would know all about that.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom This is what the Americans used to call a particular type of politics which I will not name here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom The Deputy’s time is expired.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom In the United Kingdom, two senior politicians — Lord Archer and Jonathan Aitken — actually went to jail for perjury before a court. It was a different issue, but the point is none the less valid. In most jurisdictions an action of this kind by a serving senior Minister — in this case, one who has a responsibility, together with the President, for our Defence Forces — would be treated extremely seriously.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy, your time is up.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom The Minister, Deputy O’Dea’s time is up.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom His behaviour does, unfortunately, merit a vote of no confidence. It is shameful for the Green Party to support this action by the Minister, thereby saying to the children of Ireland that this type of behaviour is all right.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom On behalf of the Sinn Féin Deputies, I oppose this motion of confidence in the Minister for Defence, Deputy Willie O’Dea. We have no confidence in the Minister and no confidence in this Government.

Dogged by the controversy, the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government has swiftly introduced its own motion of confidence in the Minister. It is a desperate effort to head off the issue and reduce the length of time the Green Party Deputies will have to spend in the bunker they are currently occupying.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information Zoom The Deputy has spent a bit of time in bunkers himself.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom He knows all about bunkers.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom The Taoiseach and his Fianna Fáil and Green Party colleagues in Government have further shredded their already tattered credibility by fully backing the Minister. They are parroting his ludicrous and blatantly false defence that this was a personal matter between him as a private citizen and another private citizen of Limerick.

In the Dáil yesterday the Taoiseach repeated this when he said: “The Minister was acting in his private capacity, not in pursuance of his ministerial duties.”

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom He is an actor all right.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom He went on to say:

. . . the Minister was acting in a private capacity. It was not in pursuance of his ministerial duties that this issue arose.

It is true that the Minister was acting. He was acting the maggot, as is his well-established inclination.

Let us take a look at the facts behind this story. They are, of course, totally different from the assertions made in the Taoiseach’s vain attempt to dismiss the Minister’s actions as something personal or unconnected to his political life and responsibilities. The Minister, who is a Deputy for Limerick East, was stung by a political charge from Mr. Maurice Quinlivan, then a Sinn Féin local government candidate, in the run-up to the June local and EU elections last year. The charge was that the Minister was wasting taxpayers’ money by having at his disposal six civil servants to assist with his constituency work. This was a political — not a personal — charge. The charge was about the deployment of public money allocated to the Minister’s office, and concerned the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, in his capacity as a Deputy and in his ministerial role.

[Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information Zoom]

The Minister chose to respond in a most scurrilous, despicable and personal way by falsely and outrageously linking Maurice Quinlivan to the operation of a brothel in Limerick city. The Minister is a political animal and has one of the highest personal votes in the country. That must be acknowledged. He knew very well what he was doing, even though his tongue often runs ahead of his brain. He was trying to prevent an electoral breakthrough by Sinn Féin and Maurice Quinlivan in Limerick City, which the Minister regards as his territory — his Fianna Fáil fiefdom.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom The Minister, Deputy O’Dea, should realise this is no laughing matter.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom Even if one were to accept the Minister’s original affidavit to the High Court, which he admitted was false, the Minister would still have a serious case to answer because of his false allegations that were published in the Limerick Chronicle — not to mention the even more serious charges which were not published but which he did utter and which were recorded on tape. This was totally inappropriate conduct for any member of the Oireachtas, let alone a Cabinet Minister.

In his so-called personal explanation to the Dáil yesterday, the Minister maintained the charade that the matter was personal. He claimed: “The matter was a personal one between me and a Sinn Féin representative in Limerick.” It was as if it was a row between business rivals or a falling out between neighbours. People should examine the Minister’s comments last evening. In the same paragraph as that claim, the Minister contradicted himself when he said it was “born out of heated political exchanges”. Therefore, the matter was clearly in the political domain.

The Minister, the Taoiseach and the rest are contradicted by the Minister’s own mouth in his original affidavit to the High Court, which began:

“I am a sitting Teachta Dála for the constituency of Limerick East and I am also [a] Government Minister. I make this Affidavit from facts within my own knowledge.”

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom I did not know the Deputy recognised the courts.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom The Minister in his affidavit defended his allegation concerning the brothel. He asserted: “I say and believe that I was fully entitled to raise this issue in my capacity as an elected public representative to whom enquiries and concerns about the existence of this brothel had been expressed by a number of constituents.”

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Was it by the Garda?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom Let there be no pretence that this was a personal matter and that Deputy O’Dea was acting as anything other than a Deputy and a Minister. Everyone knows that he is the face of the Government in Limerick and the entire mid-west region.

Faced with this outrageous defamation, Maurice Quinlivan sought an injunction in the High Court to prevent the Minister from repeating his false statements. The Minister then swore the now infamous false affidavit. Mr. Justice Cooke in the High Court accepted the affidavit and, on the basis of the Minister’s lie, refused the injunction application from Maurice Quinlivan. That decision was made on 20 April. From then until the local elections on 9 June and afterwards, Maurice Quinlivan had the Minister’s false accusation hanging over him. Many believed that, since Maurice had lost the application for a High Court injunction, he had lost the action for defamation. Despite this, he succeeded in being elected to Limerick City Council for Sinn Féin, a testament to his and his party’s hard work on behalf of the people of Limerick and a sign also that the Minister had no credibility among the electorate in attacking Maurice’s character.

The Minister subsequently changed his story when the tape recording of his interview was revealed. However, the damage had been done during an election, as was clearly intended from the outset. It was only in December that Maurice succeeded in his defamation case. The Minister was forced to withdraw his comments and to apologise. He claimed in his personal explanation last evening that he corrected the mistake when he realised it. That is stretching credibility, since it took him four months to do so. I do not believe the Minister when he says that he forgot he made the defamatory remarks. Not a chance.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom There is a great deal Deputy Ó Caoláin says that I do not believe either.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom He has abused the democratic system and the courts and should resign. His continuing defence of the indefensible and the efforts of his Fianna Fáil and Green Party colleagues clearly underscore the fact that his position is untenable, as is that of the Government.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information Zoom That is hypocrisy of the highest order.

A Deputy: The Minister of State would know about that.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom What of social welfare fraud?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom These are the facts, but he is not happy facing them. Much has been made by the Minister and the Taoiseach of the terms of the settlement in the defamation action on 21 December as if they exonerate the Minister. They do no such thing. Clearly, Maurice Quinlivan accepted the legal advice he was given, having secured the vindication of his good name and the withdrawal by the Minister of the latter’s false and defamatory statements. The matter of the false affidavit sworn to the High Court in the earlier injunction has not yet been considered by any court.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information Zoom It should be.

5 o’clock

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom The Minister must also answer to the people in his role as a public officeholder who is supposed to be a servant of the people and to uphold the highest standards in all matters. How can the people have confidence in a Cabinet Minister who has acted in this way? How can the people of Limerick have confidence in such a Minister who has also presided over record unemployment in the mid-west region and the virtual collapse of the long-promised Limerick regeneration? How can the people have confidence in a Government that, like yesterday, attempts to defend the indefensible? We certainly have no confidence in this Government and we want to see all of its members, including Deputy O’Dea, turfed out of office.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information Zoom Hear, hear.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom We may all need to wait for the Green Party, with respect to the Minister, Deputy Ryan, whose entrance into the Chamber was the most reluctant that I have witnessed in a long time. He skipped off quickly, but seems to have been sent back in again, by whom only goodness knows, as he needed to return to his seat.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom They called him back.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom It was not a bulb that went off in his head outside in the corridor. Someone told him to get back in there and to stick his ass back in his seat. That is what he has had to do.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Maybe he was reluctant to watch someone get a punishment beating.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Did the Minister swear any other affidavits?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom We must wait until the Green Party Members are eventually smoked out of the political bunker in which they are hiding or until someone on the backbenches——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom The Deputy has bunkers on his brain. It is a Freudian slip.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom ——of Fianna Fáil finds a conscience and speaks out regarding this outrageous matter.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Will Deputy Ferris tell the Deputy that Sinn Féin closed the bunkers?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information Zoom They have been filled in with concrete.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom Otherwise, our unfortunate country will have much more to undergo if Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are allowed to continue to the bitter end of their term of office.

For the record, no length of time after a recent directive from the office of the Ceann Comhairle concerning appropriate language by Members of this House, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, was in direct contravention of same when he charged Deputy Kenny, the leader of the Fine Gael Party, with the word “guttersnipe”.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom I could do worse to Deputy Ó Caoláin.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom That was one of the words that he was told was not acceptable.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom Deputy, in your case, I could go much farther.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Minister, please.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom It is absolutely typical of what the Minister will resort to.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom Hear, hear.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom It is not only Deputy O’Dea. The Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, can add himself to the whole mish mash this afternoon.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom It is your——

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information Zoom The Minister can throw all the muck he likes.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information Zoom In the Deputy’s case, I could throw much worse.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Sit down.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Minister, will you resume your seat, please?

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information Zoom The Minister is not at a cumann meeting now.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information Zoom Will the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Ferris, please.

(Interruptions).

Minister for Defence (Deputy Willie O’Dea): Information Zoom Last night——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Did the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, swear any further affidavits?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I will come to that in a minute. Last night, I stood before the House to refute the baseless, cynical and malicious allegations that have been made against me in recent days by Members of the parties opposite.

Deputies: Speak up.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Stand up.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom No sooner had I reached the end of my statement than Deputy Kenny was on his feet declaring that Fine Gael would table a motion of no confidence in me.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom It is Fine Gael, not “fine” Gael.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information Zoom The Minister is not writing for the Sunday Independent now.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Fine Gael had decided this before it had heard a word of what I had to say.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom We are not “fine” Gael. We are Fine Gael.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Please, could we hear the Minister?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It is a classic example of the ready, aim, fire school of political tactics that has become Deputy Kenny’s stock in trade.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Sit down.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Willie get your gun.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom As Deputy Kenny stated, Fine Gael’s tabling of a motion of no confidence has nothing to do with what I said or did last April or December.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Did the Minister swear any other affidavits that were false? Does he have any other court cases for which he wants to apologise.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Creed, please.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The fact that my opposite number on the Fine Gael benches has not contributed to this debate would indicate to me that this has nothing to do with my work as the Minister for Defence.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information Zoom Let us have silence otherwise we will not be able to hear the new lies.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Rather it has to do with Deputy Kenny’s recent declaration to his parliamentary party in the aftermath of the George Lee debacle that “what I’m going to do now is be myself.”

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Will the Minister apologise for any other perjury?

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Did the Minister ever find out who owns the brothel?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Am I entitled to make my statement; yes or no?

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information Zoom The Minister should not concern himself with Fine Gael.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom I ask Deputies Barrett and McGinley to restrain themselves.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information Zoom Why does the Ceann Comhairle not tell the Members opposite to be orderly?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom I am doing that as well.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information Zoom There is one-way traffic on this.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom All I can say is that whoever advised Deputy Kenny to be himself could not have given him worse advice.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information Zoom The Minister was obviously seeing himself.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The proof of this is that the case was settled in the High Court on 21 December——

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Will the Minister write about that next Sunday?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——but it has taken until now — two months later — for Deputy Kenny to decide that this is a matter that, in his own words, he believes “goes to the very heart of the standards, judgment and ethics displayed at the top of this Government”. It is not as if he could not have known about the case and my apology. It was widely reported in the media on 21 December and 22 December.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Will the Minister give us a run down on that next Sunday?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom One of Deputy Kenny’s Senators issued a statement on the day the case was finalised in court, yet Deputy Kenny did not regard it as going to the very heart of anything at that point. On 2 February Senator Regan raised the allegations in Seanad Éireann but again Deputy Kenny did not regard it as going to the very heart of anything.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom This is incredible stuff.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Deputy Kenny reminds me of the famous quotation about Henry James — that he has a mind so fine that no idea could violate it.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom The Minister knows a lot about him.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom In Deputy Kenny’s case, he has a brilliant mind until he makes it up.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information Zoom The Minister is walking a fine line.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Is that Henry James or Jesse James?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom This motion is about the Minister.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom He should stop digging; this is about the Minister and telling lies.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom What we are witnessing since the departure of the former Deputy George Lee back to a career in television is the opening performance of the new improved “Enda Kenny Show”. It is more a sitcom than a documentary and like most sitcoms it is destined to be cancelled early in the season.

I do not expect any of the Deputies opposite in the Fine Gael Party——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Did the Minister swear any other false affidavits in any other court cases?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Creed, please desist.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It would not be reasonable to expect them to vote confidence in me when they find it so hard to vote confidence in their own leader.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Did the Minister swear any other false affidavits? He is in confession and he should tell us about all the other false affidavits?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Let me remind the House of the actual and verifiable facts that I placed on the record of the House last night. The settlement that was agreed before the High Court and which was finalised in proceedings of 21 December contained this key paragraph: “It is not suggested by Mr. Quinlivan that Mr. O’Dea acted other than innocently in making such denial and he accepts that there was no intention to mislead on the part of Mr. O’Dea.”

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom That was after he got the money.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom He took the money and ran.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I have openly and fully acknowledged that my recollection of some of what I said in the interview with the journalist as described in my original affidavit was mistaken. I corrected the mistake on the day, not four months later. On the day I realised it, I corrected the mistake. I admitted the mistake and apologised for it.

I have never denied saying what was reported in the The Limerick Chronicle. I knew I had made the remarks reported in the newspaper but I honestly did not recollect going further. My genuine and honest mistake relates specifically to remarks — this is important — that were not published in the newspaper at all, which I honestly did not recall making.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom The Minister lied to this House just as comfortably and he lied to the court. He is a disgrace.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom To put it in context, the remarks concerned an apartment owned by Brixton prison escapee Nessan Quinlivan — who shot his way out of Brixton prison——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom What has that got to do with it?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——in the company of one of Jerry McCabe’s murderers — which was being used as a brothel.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Were they not let out of jail early?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Nessan Quinlivan is a brother of councillor Maurice Quinlivan.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Was it not the Minister who let them out of jail early?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Can Members allow the Minister to speak without interruption?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The information I had at the time from good sources was that Mr. Maurice Quinlivan was involved as well.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom The Minister did a deal to get them out of jail early.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom That information was incorrect.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom A secret deal was done to let them out of jail early.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information Zoom We do not want to hear any more of this rubbish.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom When I later saw a transcript of the interview in which I had, contrary to my recollection, gone further than what had been quoted in the newspaper——

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom This has nothing to do with the sworn affidavit, the false affidavit.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——and having seen the transcript, I took the initiative. I went to my solicitor and immediately corrected my affidavit. I was not forced or pressed to do this. I did so of my own volition as I then knew that my original affidavit was incorrect.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom The Minister was caught.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Kehoe, please.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I was not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Can the Minister be allowed continue without interruption?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I am dealing with this. I was not, as Fine Gael has asserted, found out by the production of a tape recording of my interview. Its members have been insinuating that as if the interview had been recorded without my knowledge. I knew it was being recorded as there was a cassette recorder clearly in front of me.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom Of course, the Minister did, that made it worse.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information Zoom He thought he would get away with it.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It is not the slightest bit credible that I would swear an incorrect——

Deputy Liz McManus: Information Zoom The Minister thought he would get away with it.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——-affidavit of a conversation that I knew had been taped when there was a tape in existence in the possession of a journalist. I ask this question of the media——

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom The Minister is fond of them himself.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——a minority of whom have been putting out comment masquerading as fact. There is a witness to the interview, namely, the journalist concerned. Why has he not been asked whether I knew the interview was being recorded? Has anybody bothered to ask the journalist who did the interview to see if a tape suddenly appeared or if I knew that the interview was being recorded?

(Interruptions).

Deputy Liz McManus: Information Zoom The Minister is free to answer questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Durkan, allow the Minister to continue without interruption.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The facts do not suit.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information Zoom I have a question.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I am not answering any questions. I declared the error.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom The Minister is afraid to answer questions.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It was not discovered or uncovered by anybody else. I saw my own mistake.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information Zoom Why did the Minister not talk to the journalists?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Am I going to be allowed to make my statement?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom The Minister is afraid to answer questions.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom This is a motion of confidence in me. Will I be allowed make my statement without interruption?

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Kehoe, please.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I declared the error. It was not discovered or uncovered by anyone else. I saw my own mistake — I brought it to the attention of others. I admitted my error and I paid the price.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom The Minister did it his way.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom He will pay the price all right.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Now Fine Gael wants me to pay a double price. It wants to remove me form office for openly admitting, owning up and remedying a mistake I made to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom He will be removed from office for perjury.

Deputy James Bannon: Information Zoom He told lies regarding Longford barracks as well.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom If Fine Gael and Deputy Kenny’s idea of standards, judgment and ethics is to punish those who admit honest mistakes, then that is one more reason many decent and law abiding people who should fear the prospect of Enda Kenny ever becoming Taoiseach.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom There will not be a law abiding perjurer at that table.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom Who is the Minister to talk?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom As I pointed out last night, evidence and testimony——

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom There will not be a perjurer at that table.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Is the Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Yes, I am doing the best I can.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom The Chair will need to get a tape recorded for the Minister.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information Zoom This is turning into the comedy club.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom As I pointed out last night, evidence and testimony is regularly corrected in courts without allegations and assertions of lying and perjury being levelled.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information Zoom Imagine that this is going on the record of the House.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom People in all walks of life have been obliged to correct testimony whether in written and oral form. However, there is a principle that he who comes looking for justice should come with clean hands. How clean are Fine Gael’s hands when it comes to owning up to its mistakes?

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom There is a dispenser outside the door.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Let us remember that this is the same Fine Gael party that deliberately suppressed a document from the Moriarty tribunal.

Deputy James Bannon: Information Zoom This is a Minister who told lies to the people of Longford.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Bannon, please.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It is also the party that destroyed its own financial records. The information it failed to give to the Moriarty tribunal was about a $50,000 donation it received from the Norwegian telecommunications company, Telenor.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information Zoom What has that got to do with a brothel?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Fine Gael’s general secretary said that the party had decided not to report the donation to the Moriarty tribunal — and note the word “decided” ——

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom What about the Minister’s former leader?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Kehoe, please.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——because it would have been “politically disastrous”, although he attempted afterwards to take back the words “politically disastrous”.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information Zoom What a performance.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom He said that he feared that if the donation was revealed, a connection might be made between Fine Gael and the granting of a mobile telephone licence to Esat Digifone, about which we will discover an awful lot more shortly.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information Zoom The Minister has lost it now.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The Fine Gael leader at the time of the donation, Mr. John Bruton, brushed the matter aside with the extraordinary excuse that he probably had not informed himself as fully as he should have about the matter. It is all right for him to make a mistake and at the time and since then Deputy Kenny——-

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom I request Members for the few minutes remaining to restrain themselves and not engage in silly behaviour.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It is called free speech. I know the Blueshirts do not have much of a concept of it but it is called free speech.

A Deputy: Touché .

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information Zoom The Minister is using strong words now.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The Fine Gael Leader——

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information Zoom I suppose we are running brothels as well, are we?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom I see the Minister is wearing a blue shirt.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Does the Deputy believe in free speech?

Deputy Michael Creed: Information Zoom Does the Minister believe in honesty?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom He might let me make my statement during the next few minutes. How he can call himself a democrat is beyond me.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom How can the Minister call himself a democrat with this rubbish?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom Deputy Kehoe, please.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom The then Fine Gael Leader, Mr. John Bruton, brushed the matter aside with the extraordinary excuse——

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information Zoom He is not a liar.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——-that he probably had not informed himself as fully as he should have. So he is entitled to make a mistake. He is entitled to suppress a document——

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information Zoom He is not a liar.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——on the basis that it might be politically disastrous to his party.

We accept that was a mistake. However, such omissions and errors are not the sole preserve of Fine Gael. It is not so long ago that Sinn Féin in the person of Deputy Arthur Morgan was denying that suspected paedophile, Liam Adams, was a member of the Sinn Féin Party in Louth——

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information Zoom The Minister is misleading the House, I did not say that.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——dismissing his involvement as being “peripheral”——

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information Zoom I said it was not in the office——

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——and indeed continuing with this line until former members of the party started to produce photos and documentation showing that Liam Adams was anything but peripheral but——

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information Zoom The Minister is again misleading the House in the same way as—-

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom ——when this fact emerged into the public domain, Deputy Morgan’s explanation was that he had a lapse of memory.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information Zoom I checked the record and I put the record straight. The Minister should withdraw that comment.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom At the beginning of this debate the Taoiseach set out what we have achieved in the Department of Defence in recent years. He also set out the dearth of new ideas and new policies on defence coming from Fine Gael. I have a job to do as Minister for Defence.

Deputy Ulick Burke: Information Zoom Closing the barracks.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information Zoom To defend your seat.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I am committed to doing that work and will not be dissuaded from doing my job by politically motivated accusations from the parties opposite. I have spent almost 30 years of my adult life as a Deputy and have been proud of the work I have done for the people of Limerick. I am proud to have represented them in Dáil Éireann.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information Zoom Is the Minister proud of what he has done in this case?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I value my good name and reputation.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom That is up for auction.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom Whatever about our political differences, the people of Limerick respect my good name and reputation as an open and accessible public representative.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom What about some respect for the truth?

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom I do not expect any praise from the benches opposite but I do not think it unreasonable to expect some level of propriety and fairness.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information Zoom Low standards in high places.

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Information Zoom It seems I am wrong to even expect that.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom Well done.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information Zoom Here comes the praise.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information Zoom There is no round of applause today.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information Zoom The Deputy should keep his hair on.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information Zoom That concludes the contributions on the motion of confidence in the Minister for Defence. I am now obliged to put the question as it is approaching 5.15 p.m. Standing Order 71 provides that a list vote through the lobbies is the appropriate way of taking a vote of confidence in the Government and I consider that a vote of confidence in a Minister is of such import that I should exercise my discretion to have a full list vote on this item.

John Waters on ethics and resignations… February 26, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
5 comments

John Waters writes today about the events of the last few weeks. In doing so he links the recent resignations to the allegations of bullying by Gordon Brown. Now, as to the latter case I’m dubious about offering an opinion one way or another. How can one tell what the truth of it is? And therefore in that instance much of the subsidiary comment is superfluous. If that were Waters contention, that allegations of behaviour were not in themselves sufficient to justify the reams written about them I’d probably be happy to go more than some way along that road with him.

That said, who would genuinely be surprised if a culture of bullying exists at the heart of government, there, here everywhere. And having had some experience of that dynamic in commercial contexts I’m loath to diminish its importance. But I’m also aware that without more information it is difficult to take a position.

The problem with Waters is that having reached a plane of existence and contemplation us less exalted mortals can only dream of aspiring to he now has – and in a way this dovetails with thoughts expressed about the Green Party during the week, that by placing climate change front and centre all else takes too secondary a position – arrived at a point where everything else in this world is less important than whatever he has vaguely, inchoately and unclearly decided is significant. And if the latter part of that sentence is difficult to understand… read on.

OUR MOST serious moral problem may be that those responsible for imposing and policing moral principles have lost all sense of right and wrong. In the past week, we saw one Government minister resign on foot of a commonplace episode of badmouthing a rival that happened and was reported months ago, but was ignored until it suddenly became useful to his political opponents. When another minister resigned having made representations to the Garda on behalf of a constituent, the first question the media asked was “Who snitched him up?”

And…

So, which is it? Defaming a rival is wrong or is wrong only when it proves convenient to the Opposition? Making representations to gardaí is wrong, but not as bad as blowing the whistle on someone who unlawfully makes representations to gardaí? I’ll save your brain getting into a knot: it’s all a game. Nobody gives a stuff one way or another except in as far as the facts become useful. For the media it’s about “stories”, about introducing new plotlines to the public narrative. For politicians – apart from those directly involved – it’s a form of warfare, an alternative to the boring stuff of policy and legislation.

It’s an interesting thesis. Not least in that it argues that the media seem to have become for Waters ‘those responsible for imposing and policing moral principles’. But think about that for a moment. Are the media really in that position? Some of those working there may, in their wilder moments, think so, but truth is that moral principles are set within a framework established and perpetuated by many different actors. To reify the media is a nonsense. Indeed it is counterintuitive. Without dismissing the notion of ‘entertainment’ as a factor within the media portrayal of events, their output is more variegated than that. And there is also the small matter that in many areas the media, take violent crime for example, while overblowing and exaggerating the incidence of it, clearly positions itself as antagonistic to such actions. That that leads to certain contradictions, as with the coverage of trials in salacious detail, doesn’t negate the underlying principle.

But… he further argues that…

We have arrived at a form of public discussion that constantly invokes moral and ethical questions, but is really the most cynical misappropriation of morality for commercial gain or political advantage.
At the centre of this insane culture, the public representative becomes a cartoon figure: either a po-faced literalist who insists on the letter of every regulation, or a two-faced cynic who publicly pays lip service to what are called ethical standards while secretly knowing that it is all humbug.
We, the people, enjoy the dramas but have little opportunity of seeing deeply into them. We witness the politician at the centre of the latest ethical whirlwind and either passively allow ourselves to be seduced by the moment of theatre or become outraged on one or other side of the catfight.
We collude in the construction of a culture in which everyone prates on about morality and ethics, but nobody has the faintest idea what such words might mean.

That would be fine, except except… a government Minister giving incorrect information under oath is relegated by Waters to the cut and thrust… another making representations unlawfully to a Garda is a minor quibble.

The problem here is that Waters himself is adding to the idea that this is all a game. By underplaying the importance of these events he diminishes their gravity. Trevor Sargent had to go. From the moment that news broke it was clear that he had acted in a manner inconsistent with the position he held. Willie O’Dea likewise.

To me it is inconceivable that after the nature of our polity across decades has been revealed, and a litany of corrupt, illegal and unethical behaviour has come to the surface both in relation to the state itself, our political class, the interactions with the Catholic Church and so on and so forth, that John Waters can seek to reduce the import of this, and furthermore should try to trivialise the actions of two politicians.

The point isn’t the media response… that’s a secondary issue. The primary issue is the one that led to the resignations. Just as the media circus that surrounds a trial, such as we saw recently with a high-profile murder case in Dublin earlier this year, isn’t relevant in the slightest to the act of murder.

None of us will disagree that the media acts in a silly and superficial way a lot of the time. Particularly in relation to political discourse. So much of the output on this site is directed at pointing this up. But however candy floss the media approach that doesn’t detract from the reality. Indeed one crucial aspect of writing about the media has been the goal of trying to point it towards the underlying reality of a discourse that – for example – references economic ‘pain’ glibly but then chooses to ignore how that ‘pain’ impacts on communities (and for evidence of that consider yet again how the attacks on CDPs have been all but entirely ignored in recent months by much of a media that was in no way shy about supporting rhetorically the most egregious policies by the government). But Waters is curiously indifferent to that, choosing to attack the softest of soft targets, media coverage of political events, while explaining away the events themselves. And here his thoughts on the allegations about Brown are entirely inapposite. The events that consumed O’Dea and Sargent weren’t focussed on allegations, but were documented instances of personal behaviour. There is literally no comparison.

What is also intriguing in that is that Waters doesn’t actually bother to detail what ‘real ethics’ are. Perhaps he doesn’t know… and this too I think this indicates a problem with Waters contemporary approach. Although ostensibly set within a framework of deep consideration in truth he doesn’t quite get it (Vincent Brown by contrast considers these relatively minor issues in contrast to the social and economic policies pursued by the government and to which they are a party to… a position that at least has the virtue of positioning them within a clear framework). Acts that are wrong are wrong. And the response by others to them doesn’t in the slightest bit alter that. And all the… well… to borrow a phrase… prating about ethics and morality leads us back to a place where there seems to be precious little of either.

This week from the Irish Election Literature Blog… February 26, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
9 comments

As AK notes…

Yet another mad week, God knows who the next resignation will be…

Anyway here’s Trevor in happier times.

In other green news…

Deirdre De Burcas Replacement in the Seanad Mark Dearey.

Then off we pop to the Left with…

Eamon McCann running for The Socialist Environmental Alliance in 2005.

Then John Dunne of The Workers Party from Dublin North West in 1997.

And then from ten years later we have John O’Neill of the ISN runnning in Dublin North West.

Back then to 1980s…

A Kieran Doherty H-Block candidate Poster from the 1981 General Election.

and A booklet from 1986 proclaiming ‘A New and Exciting Option in Irish Politics’…..

I had forgotten that Mary McAleese was with RTE for a while.

…and the first Dail in 1919.

And finally, a calling card to surely Win Friends and Influence People

Thanks as ever to AK… a great roundup of materials…

You think it’s over? It’s not over… February 25, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
32 comments

Those of us who have logged onto Déirdre de Búrca’s website this last day or two were not entirely surprised to see her working away at keeping the pot boiling… not entirely. Somewhat surprised. But… not entirely.

Now she’s referencing politics.ie posts… and articles from the Irish Times.

I’m wracking my brains to think of a similar case where an Irish politician who resigned so publicly attempted to continue to keep the issue of the resignation in the public mind. To – as it were, and to paraphrase the old jibe about the Labour Party 1983 Election Manifesto being the longest suicide note in history, communicate the longest resignation note in Irish politics. So long it has been arriving in installments.

I can’t think of one. In fact I can’t think of one in the UK or further afield either. It’s a sort of l’esprit de l’escalier writ largish.

This seems to be something that could only happen in a period where the means of communication were readily available to all and sundry. A politician, or a former politician, waging a sort of low intensity net conflict against her former colleagues.

But it also points up some of the shallowness of that communication – and I don’t exempt the CLR from this analysis one bit.

There is something about having a public platform, unlike any other in history, the fact that it can be accessed by anyone with a computer connection, that can paradoxically lead to a disconnect. It’s a sort of cosmetic levelling effect in a sense. I’d put it this way. The ubiquity of it, that it can be accessed almost anywhere on many different forms of devices from hand held ones to desktops to televisions. The fact that the format is so similar, albeit not uniform – your Irish Times appears in precisely the same rectangular space as A.N.Other Blog – means that some people may begin to believe that their words assume an equal level of truth or veracity – a belief which is, when one thinks about it for any length of time, absurd.

It can be true – perhaps. But it all depends. And while I know this is hugely self-evident, one of the reasons we invest a slightly greater degree of legitimacy in the Irish Times (I know, I know, caveats apply when it comes to commentary) is that they operate more or less – and sometimes less, as somewhat objective third parties (I know, I know, caveats also apply as regards that!). Straight from the horses mouth doesn’t have that cachet. It can’t unless the evidence is unequivocal. And when it gets into complex ‘she said, he said’ back and forths…

Moreover that very similarity of format means that much that is written is unread. There’s too much of it. It doesn’t, simply by being online, have any greater legitimacy, nor does being on-line accord it a dignity it would not have in other circumstances. I don’t, however, want to say that it is entirely trivial. Within niche groups we afford greater or lesser importance to specific sites. But even there most of us are aware of how subjective, how rooted in commentary they are. That’s no bad thing. Commentary provides the emotional charge that can inform dry facts. And it can engage and infuse something like ‘trust’ which comes from a relationship we develop with sites. But, can anyone seriously contend that there are many sites run by politicians which they have developed such a relationship with?

Nor, and this is where I think the current de Búrca postings are telling, does referencing other sources – even supposedly more credible ones – per se strengthen an argument (and it could be that this shift indicates the well is dry in terms of further interesting material).

But, and here’s a further paradox, chances are the more she continues, at least in the short term, that self-same media will pick up on her words – again assuming she has more pointed and intriguing material to offer. Because the media wants something to write about.

Where will this sorry tale end – she asks?

Where indeed?

Another web based Left literature Archive… February 25, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I’m indebted to John O’Neill for forwarding this to me about “Reading from the Left“, a web based Left Archive of freely downloadable pamphlets and such like. They seem to be in some way associated with the Socialist Resistance grouping in the UK which incorporated the International Socialist Group into it. Anyhow, it’s all useful and interesting whatever one’s political perspective and well worth a visit…

What’s happening next month? February 25, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
8 comments

Something snappy, ‘cos time is at a premium.

Meanwhile, Green Party Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan was asked by Newstalk presenter George Hook if he supported a national government.

“Yes, I think we do need to pull together a bit to pull through this crisis, and I think particularly next month because there’s going to be difficult decisions in front of us.”

Anyone care to enlighten us all?

How quickly they forget…. February 24, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
2 comments

Under the heading ‘Greens’ first TD and leader who won over sceptics’ you will read in the Irish Times today:

PROFILE: IT WAS while he was working as a teacher in Dunmanway, west Cork in 1982 that Trevor Sargent joined the Ecology Party, as the Green Party was then called.
Elected on his third attempt to Dublin County Council in 1991, he was manhandled when he raised the issue of corruption by waving a cheque sent to him by a developer seeking to have land rezoned.
Fianna Fáil’s Don Lydon, who caught Mr Sargent in a headlock, would go on to dismiss the incident as nothing but “a bit of craic” and “pure devilment”.
The respected Green TD is based in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, and has a constituency office on the main street of Swords. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he also attended the Church of Ireland College in Rathmines. He contested the general election in 1987 as a Green Alliance candidate in the old three-seat Dublin North constituency and the 1989 general election as a Green Party candidate in the same constituency.
Mr Sargent became the sole Green TD in the Dáil in 1992 and was elected as the party’s first ever leader in October 2001. He held this position until 2007, when John Gormley became leader.
In 2002, Mr Sargent was re-elected in Dublin North with five Green colleagues. When his party voted to enter government with Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats following the 2007 election, he caused surprise when he stood by his pledge to step down rather than lead the Greens in Coalition.
Mr Sargent was appointed by then taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a minister of state. It appeared to be Mr Sargent’s dream job, given his impeccable green credentials and personal interests: his full title was Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries with special responsibility for food and horticulture.
Traditionalists in the department were unhappy about the appointment and the farm organisations were upset to think anyone with the slightest tinge of Green politics should be allowed near their operations. But Mr Sargent won respect with the manner he carried out the job and in recent times even the Irish Farmers Association and Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association rank and file was no longer suspicious of him.
A keen gardener and a committed environmentalist since his early 20s, he maintains a blog on growing organic food.

This man might wonder, entirely reasonably, about the headline and the sentence above…

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