The Bizarre Green Timeline pre-O’Dea’s Resignation: On Wednesday Minister Eamon Ryan was in in the Dáil saying… eh… well see for yourself.[Thanks to Alexia for the clip.]
And it that, I suppose, that is the crucial issue. That when there was a mistake [noted] in that affidavit, when there was something [noted] that was not true, it was acknowledged in Court, dealt with in Court, and accepted by the other party.“
As shown above, Minister Ryan, “speaking on behalf of the Green Party” defended Mr O’Dea in the Dáil. Minister John Gormley also stood behind Mr O’Dea. As did the rest of the party when they voted confidence in the then defence minister on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Minister Gormley around the same time he had been assured by Mr O’Dea that an article in the Limerick Leader the following morning would “vindicate” him. However, at this point various unchallenged reports (not to mention the court settlement) showing that Mr O’Dea had falsely claimed an electoral opponent ran a brothel (and then denied doing so in a sworn affidavit to court) were already in the public domain. What exactly could vindicate a minister in this situation is unclear.
Despite this, Minister Gormley said he was waiting for the next edition of the Leader before considering whether or not he had confidence in Mr O’Dea. He did so so0n after, or just before… erm… voting confidence in Mr O’Dea.
The story rolled on through the day with the Opposition sniping and coalition partners standing firm. Then late on Wednesday night Green Party Chairperson Dan Boyle tweeted.
The following morning on Newstalk’s Breakfast show Green TD Paul Gogarty continued to defend his party for refusing to force a resignation. He called demands from the Opposition for the defence minister to go “political opportunism” and an “opposition witch-hunt” (even though his party colleague was, in short, saying the same thing).
Deputy Gogarty’s reasons for not calling on Mr O’Dea to go included;
It’s not a resigning issue because when he gave that interview to the Limerick Leader he did so with a tape-recorder in front of him and he’s been accused of many things, he’s been accused of arrogance, he’s been accused of mud-slinging but I don’t think he’s stupid enough to tell anything than what he believes with a tape recorder running. And that’s the nub of the issue, he genuinely believed it at the time, it was suggested that it came from a Garda source, and if a Garda is telling you something, you’re going to repeat it verbatim. Unfortunately the information he was given wasn’t entirely correct.
Note: Mr O’Dea is a qualified barrister, a senior counsel. “A a garda told me it” is up there with “my dog ate it”. Furthermore, it’s an offence for a cabinet member to improperly use information supplied by a Garda.
Deputy Gogarty continued in his interview with Newstalk…
It’s unacceptable […] We’re not happy with his behaviour, we don’t like but it’s clear that if it was a resigning issue we would have already been calling for his resignation.
Seemingly the Greens [Boyle excluded] believed that Mr O’Dea’s behaviour had been unethical and unacceptable but unethical behaviour was, apparently, “not a resigning issue”. Bizarre.
In the afternoon Mr O’Dea appeared on News At One where Séan O’Rourke showed why he’s one of the best broadcast journalists in the country. When Mr O’Dea said “I’m a victim here too”, it was all over. Minister Gormley and the Greens changed tact, they said the Leader piece had done nothing to “put our minds at ease on the issue”. Mr O’Dea began making the long walk down Resignation Avenue.
Over 48 hours the Greens had gone from having “complete confidence” in Mr O’Dea to saying he should go, without anything substantive changing bar the perception following the News At One.
If Senator Boyle had not spoken out Minister Gormley would still be in support, as would Deputy Gogarty and the rest of the party (judging by their pre-tweet pronouncements, or lack thereof). Boyle should be roundly applauded for his actions but it’s fair that following his tweet and the News At One the Green Party is seen to have flip-flopped, again.
Therefore The Irish Times is incorrect in saying “the Greens are in a better position today than they were yesterday”. The moment the Greens backed O’Dea there could not be a post-resignation bounce. Fianna Fáil know the Green TDs weren’t going to push O’Dea. They know Gormley was forced into it. The parliamentary party as a whole is now simply basking in Dan Boyle’s reflected glory. Fianna Fáil know this too.
It was downhill once they rowed in behind O’Dea. The Boyle-forced resignation just stopped things getting worse.
Footnote I: Minister Gormley said on RTÉ television news last night that is was a “sad day for politics”. A sad day for politics when the questionable actions of politicians force them to resign?
It was a great day Irish politics, someone has been held to account. If it Mr O’Dea had not resigned trust in politics would have been further corroded with every day he sat on the front bench.
Footnote II: Briefly to correct what Minister Eamon Ryan said in the Dáil; the mistake was not acknowledged as being incorrect in Court because it didn’t get to the judge. Despite what it appears Minister Ryan is trying to say the judge didn’t note that the affidavit was wrong and decide to ‘let him away with it’. The issue of the affidavit being wrong was never considered by the judge because the case was settled before that could happen.
It’s for this same reason that Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have said there was no perjury. Whether someone perjures is down to the decision of the judge, the judge never had the option of considering if the affidavit was perjury as it never came before him.
Footnote III: Elements of the media are saying the Greens “got a scalp“. That’s pushing it. In an almost accidental, bumbling, manner, yes the Greens scalped O’Dea. Really, it woz Boyle wot done it.
Thankfully, someone did.
Footnote IV: The Times editorial ends with “A hard lesson learned”. Let’s not get started on that…