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Republic of Ireland's defence minister forced to resign

Irish Defence Minister Willie O'Dea was forced to resign last night — leaving Fianna Fail and the Green Party squabbling over what prompted his departure.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen claimed Mr O'Dea's resignation came after they had a conversation — indicating it was the former minister's own decision.

But after voting confidence in Mr O'Dea a day earlier, John Gormley last night said the situation changed and his party felt Mr O'Dea could no longer continue to be a minister.

He listed off a series of reasons why they wanted the Defence Minister to go.

While he continues as a TD, Mr O’Dea will receive a “golden parachute” payment of almost €100,000 in compensation for losing his cabinet post.

Mr O'Dea said he had come to the “regrettable conclusion” that his continuing in office “will only serve to distract from the important and vital work of Government in addressing the serious challenges that the country continues to face at this time”.

In his letter acknowledging Mr O'Dea's resignation, Mr Cowen directly referred to a telephone conversation with the minister after his interview on RTE Radio's ‘The News At One', which was viewed as the final blow.

Mr Cowen is understood to have been aware of the contents of the interview, where Mr O'Dea claimed he was a “victim”.

However, Mr Cowen's claim is undermined by his expression of support for Mr O'Dea yesterday afternoon, where he repeatedly referred to the motion of confidence passed by the Government.

Belfast Telegraph

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