Brian Friel’s ground breaking play “Philadelphia Here I come” features a character who spends most of the time centre stage dividing his time between his private self and his public self. He wrestles with himself but in the end there is only one winner.
I think Willie O’Dea can identify with Friel’s character. O’Dea compensated a Limerick SF councillor arising from a malicious claim made by O’Dea about the councillor after gardaí discovered prostitutes working from a property owned by his brother.
O’Dea now accepts that his sworn affidavit on the matter is a “mistake”. Minister O’Dea accepts this because a journalist has a tape recording of O’Dea making remarks that he now accepts are mistaken. However how could a solicitor like Mr O’Dea write an affidavit having been warned about swearing an untruth. But what hasn’t been alluded to is that the SF councillor Quinlivan lost his initial case which relied on the incorrect affidavit.
For the record Minster O’Dea’s affidavit is littered with references to; as a public representative, as a life long democrat, as a Teachtala Dala, remarks that I was entitled to make as a public representative.
The best that FF can come up with to mitigate Willie O’Dea’s latest “mistake” is that Willie exists in a parallel universe to Defence Minster Willie O’Dea where he can divide personal accountability to public accountability of a minister. It’s not the first time that Willie has fallen foul of the microphone. During the Albert Reynolds libel case his contributions in the subsequent Dail Committee investigating the matter had an Old Bailey QC calling for an interpreter. 8 years ago, Willie was caught out by on radio encouraging taxi drivers to protest against his own government’s policy on liberalising licensing.
Fine Gael has now submitted a motion of no confidence in Willie in an attempt to drive a wedge between the Greens and Fianna Fail. It’s not going to happen. It’s a huge change from 20 years ago when FG pursued Jim McDaid on his nomination to the post of Defence Minister because he gave evidence in support of a member of the republican movement in an extradition case. Then they were strongly anti-republican now they are strongly backed by SF!
It’s not quite the head of steam that the McDaid affair built up. The greens are satisfied that the matter has been dealt with to the satisfaction of the court. The Greens are now exhibiting signs of Stockholm syndrome that mirror the symptoms of Munchausen by proxy that FF reps exhibit every day. While the greens are behaving more like FF of old, FF themselves are identifying signs of recovery in the economy that don’t exist. For the greens to jump ship would mean political obliteration so they’ll put up with anything to put off the day when they’re toast.
Indeed Willie is one of those who’re most vocal about the economy recovering and has been touted as a future Minister for Finance. That was until his financial settlement with the SF councillor whose brother is a well known stalwart of the IRA. It’s not the first time that Willie has been before the courts as recently he was involved in a case where a man falsely claimed that O’Dea had struck him.
Regardless of the outcome O’Dea is damaged. But he’s ultimately safe in cabinet. Who’ll rebuke him? Coughlan who bungled jobs at Dublin Ariport, , Martin who sleepwalked around the Gresham giving rise to the organ retention scandal, Harney who presided over mis-diagnosis after mis-diagnosis in the HSE, Dermot Ahern who was up every tree in North Dublin, Dempsey or Gormley, Minister for Snow or indeed the Daddy of them all Brian Cowen who poured petrol on the economic fire 4 years ago?
Anyone familiar with Philadelphia knows that in the end the main character exits. However, I don’t think that Willie will be going anywhere yet!