Willie O'Dea

Willie O'Dea

Infobox Minister
name =Willie O'Dea
honorific-suffix =



width =
office = Minister for Defence
predecessor = Michael Smith
successor =
term_start = 29 September 2004
term_end2 =
primeminister2=
birth_date =Birth date and age|1952|11|27|df=yes
birth_place =Limerick Ireland
death_date =
death_place =
party = Fianna Fáil
residence =
salary =
spouse =
nationality = Irish
children =
website =
footnotes =

Willie O'Dea ( _ga. Liam Ó Deaghaidh; born 27 November 1952), is an Irish politician who is a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Limerick East. Formerly a Minister of State he is currently the Minister for Defence.

Early & private life

Willie O’Dea was born in Limerick and reared in Kilteely, County Limerick. He was educated at the Patrician Brothers College in Ballyfin, County Laois,and University College Dublin where he studied law. [A contemporary at UCD was later Attorney General and Cabinet Minister Michael McDowell] He qualified as a barrister at King's Inns, Dublin. He has an accountancy qualification from the Institute of Certified Accountants. He worked as both a barrister and as an accountant before embarking on a career in politics. He also spent some time working as a lecturer in University College Dublin and in the University of Limerick. [ As a lecturer, he taught a future cabinet colleague, Brian Cowen] Willie O’Dea is married to Geraldine Kennedy (not the Editor of the Irish Times). He writes regularly for the Sunday Independent and occasionally for other national newspapers. [http://www.defence.ie/website.nsf/document+ID/F3A8618F8F8F961680256C61004C6F29] O'Dea has also sparked controversy when admitting to smoking cannabis at a party in Dublin, whilst being under the influence of alcohol, during his days at UCD. He later said that, the person who gave him the joint, admitted years later that it was a cigarette.

Early political career

O’Dea first held political office as an Fianna Fáil member of Limerick County Council. He served on that authority until 1992. He was elected to the Dáil for the first time in 1982 for the constituency of Limerick East. Like his former constituency colleague Desmond O'Malley, O'Dea was opposed to Charlie Haughey's leadership throughout the 1980s, becoming a member of the so-called Gang of 22. Following the foundation of the Progressive Democrats in 1985 O’Dea became the only Fianna Fáíl TD in the five-seat Limerick constituency. He failed to secure a ministry under Charles Haughey.

In 1992 Reynolds succeeded Charles Haughey as Fianna Fáil leader and Following a widespread cabinet reshuffle O’Dea, became a Minister at the Department of Justice. Following the collapse of the Fianna Fáíl/Labour coalition government in 1994 O’Dea found himself on the opposition benches. In 1997 with the help of the Progressive Democrats, Fiana Fáíl were back in government and O’Dea was appointed a Minister of state at the Department of Education. He remained in this position after the 2002 general election, when he was appointed as Minister of State at Dept. of Justice, Equality & Law Reform with special responsibility for Equality Issues in June 2002. He was subsequently appointed as Minister for Defence in 2004.

Recent ministerial career

Following the 2002 general election O’Dea became Minister of State at the Department of Justice with responsibility for equality issues. Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2004 O’Dea became Minister for Defence. During his tenure he has had to deal with the army deafness compensation issue which ultimately resultedFact|date=September 2007 in claims of €300 million being made against the State. In November 2005 O'Dea courted controversy when he posed for a photo during a training exercise at the Curragh Camp in which he pointed an automatic pistol at the photographer [http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/2005/1117] . O'Dea said that it was not his intention to glamorise gun crime [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/1117/dail.html] . O'Dea has spoken out against Aer Lingus's decision to cease London Heathrow flights from Shannon Airport. O'Dea said the Government [http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0816/aerlingus.html] should use its 25% shareholding in Aer Lingus to reverse the airline's decision to end its Shannon to Heathrow service. The Government has said [http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0816/aerlingus.html] that it will not ask Aer Lingus to reverse its decision to end its Shannon-Heathrow service. In a Dáil debate on the Shannon stopover, O'Dea did not speak at all despite his continuous criticism of the Government decision in the media.

On being asked by a constituent as to why he had not spoken in the Dáil, he allegedly became abusive, calling a prominent businessman, John Fahey, Chief Executive of the Meet Limerick/Shannon conferencing promotion group, "a big prick" and reportedly offering to fight him outside, while saying to his questioner, Geraldine Morrissey, spokeswoman for Aer Lingus workers at Shannon Airport: "I don’t give a fuck about you." O'Dea, however, denied the allegations. [ [http://archives.tcm.ie/irishexaminer/2007/10/04/story44368.asp Irish Examiner - 2007/10/04: O’Dea denies offering to fight in pub row ] ]

O'Dea's prominent moustache and foppish fringe has been a constant source of ridicule in the Irish press.However in July 2008 O'Dea was reported in The Irish Examiner as being prepared to shave off his distinctive 'tache' 'if the price was right'. Boyle Sports,an Irish bookmaker, offered O'Dea 10,000 euros and according to a statement issued by his office is said to be considering the offer.

References

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