Willie O'Dea breaks Fianna Fail ranks to defend Denis O'Brien's legal bid
FIANNA Fail TD Willie O’Dea has broken ranks with his party leadership and defended businessman Denis O’Brien’s right to launch a legal challenge against a ruling by the Dáil’s Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP).
Mr O’Dea insisted Mr O’Brien was constitutionally entitled to challenge a decision by the CPP to overturn a complaint he made against Independent TD Catherine Murphy.
Mr O’Brien has lodged a High Court challenge against the 10 TDs who sit on the committee after it unanimously found Ms Murphy did not have a case to answer after she outlined his alleged banking affairs with Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC) during a Dail debate.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin yesterday called on Mr O’Brien to “back off” and warned that the legal action posed a threat to parliamentary democracy.
However, Mr O’Dea insisted the telecoms tycoon was within his rights to challenge the finding if he felt he had been wronged by the committee.
“Under the Constitution, the CPP is not the final court of appeal on matters like that and you can have recourse from the courts, so what’s wrong with someone using their right,” he told the Herald.
“If someone offended by something said in the Dáil was a low-profile person who wasn’t as wealthy or famous as Denis O’Brien, nobody would question their right to go to court,” the Limerick TD added.
“Consistently, we are told no one is above the law but similarly nobody is below the law either.”
He also criticised the “hypocrisy” of Sinn Fein dismissing a CPP finding against Mary Lou McDonald but insisting Mr O’Brien should accept the finding made against him.
“It’s nauseating to listen to a party that themselves disregard a finding of the committee as flawed yet they question the right of someone else to challenge a ruling,” he said.
The CPP found Ms McDonald abused Dail privilege when she named former politicians in connection with alleged off-shore “Ansbacher accounts”.
Those named all denied the allegations, which were previously investigated by a number of State agencies and found to have no grounds.
Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin said he “doubted” Ms McDonald would take a legal challenge against the CPP ruling but said he backed his party vice president’s right to contest the finding.
However, Mr Toibin said Mr O’Brien should not contest the ruling made against him.
Yesterday, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe gave his
backing to the CPP and Ms Murphy.