Political row: Limerick TD Willie O'Dea

THE Green Party yesterday accused former defence minister Willie O'Dea of misleading the courts as the row between the former minister and the junior coalition partner intensified.

Stung by remarks made by O'Dea on the Late Late Show on Friday, a Green Party spokesman accused the Limerick East TD of "selective recall" of the events surrounding his resignation from government in February.

He said O'Dea had "misled the courts" after first accusing an elected representative of a crime he did not commit.

In his outburst on the Late Late Show, O'Dea claimed that the "corrosive" Greens "behaved very, very shabbily" during the week of his resignation.

And in a move that may drive a wedge between Fianna Fáil and the Greens, O'Dea claimed that Senator Dan Boyle's tweeting and blogging about cabinet business "is very corrosive of the government and... you cannot run a government properly on that basis."

O'Dea said he was amazed to read an interview recently "where Mr Boyle suggested that the party leadership often asked him to tweet."

He added, "If that is the case, then it is very ominous indeed... if this was to continue, I mean the work of government would be well nigh impossible. I mean you run a government on the basis of trust and the basis of collective cabinet responsibility."

O'Dea also claimed that the Greens are agreeing unpopular measures at the cabinet table and then trying to create the illusion that "they are on the side of angels and it is all those Fianna Fáil gangsters that are forcing their hand. I don't think that is a proper way to run a government."

Defending his tweeting yesterday, Boyle said, "We have different ways of communicating and we are a party that believes in being open and transparent. I am not going to change the way I act as a public representative."

A Green party spokesman also hit back at O'Dea. "We will not fuel O'Dea's publicity comeback bid despite his partial and selective recall. We know how disappointed he has been but he had to leave government because he falsely accused an elected representative of a grievous crime and then misled the courts," he said.

O'Dea resigned on 18 February, over controversy surrounding a defamation case taken by Sinn Féin councillor Nessan Quinlivan. It had become clear before he resigned that the Green Party would no longer support the government if he was to stay in office.

Boyle stood over the Greens' position yesterday and said, "As far as we are concerned, the circumstances at the time meant that there was justification for us to call for his resignation. I think that we acted in the only way we could in the interests of our continuance in government and in the interests of the ethics of governance."

While Fianna Fáil yesterday moved to play down O'Dea's comments, a senior Fine Gael source said, "Willie knew what he was at. He was distancing himself from the government as he can sense that a general election is on the cards. He must have good contacts in RTÉ if he was allowed to launch his election campaign on the Late Late Show like that."

O'Dea announced in the interview with Ryan Tubridy that he would be contesting the next general election.