Belfast Telegraph

Fianna Fail’s Willie O’Dea denies members’ ethics violation

The Limerick City TD was reported to an Oireachtas committee after his picture was used on election literature.

Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea (Niall Carson/PA)
Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

A Fianna Fail TD says he has mistakenly been reported to the Oireachtas ethics committee after his picture was used without consent on election literature.

The Oireachtas Committee on Members’ Interests has launched an investigation into Willie O’Dea, after they received a complaint about the Limerick City representative over alleged misuse of official Dail Eireann pre-paid envelopes for election materials.

Sources say that a decision was made this week that the committee would investigate the complaint, but have not decided what format the investigation will take.

The envelopes were allegedly used for the dissemination of election leaflets around May this year for the local election.

They featured Mr O’Dea and were in support of local election candidate Trina O’Dea, who is a constituency administrator for Fianna Fail Deputy Niall Collins.

Members of the Oireachtas receive a monthly allocation of pre-paid envelopes, and these only made available to Deputies in respect of their duties as public representatives, not for election purposes.

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Mr O’Dea denied any connection with the envelopes (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr O’Dea denied any involvement, saying that the envelopes did not come from his office and had nothing to do with him, claiming that he had no connection with Ms O’Dea and none of his allocated Dail envelopes had been used for electoral purposes.

“My staff never gave out any envelopes, and I had nothing to do with that leaflet,” he said.

“My photograph was on it, but I wasn’t involved, I was never consulted, and I certainly had nothing to do with that leaflet by any manners or means.

“My photograph was on it because the candidate was running in an area that overlaps in my constituency, and she was trying to influence those voters with my picture maybe, but I don’t know.

“I don’t know the person, I met her once at the count, we have absolutely no connection whatsoever.

“I wouldn’t allow my staff to do this and I don’t think it’s right, and would be completely out of character for me to do this.

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Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins (Niall Carson/PA)

“I got a letter from public standards office, and have replied and told them as much.”

When contacted by PA Media and asked if the envelopes had come from Mr Collins’ office, Ms O’Dea said: “I have to look into it, I wasn’t aware of it, I need to check it out.

“As you can imagine there was a lot of election literature sent out.”

Mr Collins was repeatedly approached for comment.

Ms O’Dea, who stood in the Adare Rathkeale area in May’s elections received 879 votes, failing to be elected to the council.

PA Media understands that the member of the public who made the complaint has no political party association, but is “just someone who was annoyed about use of public money for election purposes,” a source close to the complainant said.

The committee is now tasked with determining whether the alleged misuse of envelopes in this case constituted a breach of the Ethics in Public Office legislation.

PA

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