John O'Donoghue TD, who is to resign from the Dáil as Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of the House of the Irish parliament)
Former Minister of State and South Kerry TD for 31 years John O’Leary today said “in darkest Africa they’d give some fella some sort of trial before they’d execute him, and Jesus, even back in the time of the Black and Tans they’d nearly give a fella some bit of a trial before they’d hang him” in relation to John O’Donoghue’s resignation as Ceann Comhairle. He also said John O’Donoghue needed ten staff as Ceann Comhairle as opposed to the three Rory O’Hanlon had because “Rory O’Hanlon wouldn’t be dealing with a fraction of the constituency work that John O’Donoghue would be dealing with from South Kerry”.
John O’Leary was speaking on Lunchtime with Eamon Keane on Newstalk 106-108 fm where he spoke of a phone conversation he had with John O’Donoghue: “John phoned me to thank me for my support and understanding for him on this occasion. He told me he’s definitely standing in the next general election and that he’d leave it up to the people of South Kerry to decide.
“Now, I am very aggrieved at the fact that he was not allowed to go before the Oireachtas Commission and defend himself and state his case and so are many many people in South Kerry, thousands of people in South Kerry. They can’t understand why he was not allowed to go before the commission and defend himself in the interest of natural justice. It’s hard to understand why he was not.
“ After all, out in darkest Africa they’d give some fella some sort of trial before they’d execute him, and Jesus, even back in the time of the Black and Tans they’d nearly give a fella some bit of a trial before they’d hang him. John was allowed no chance at all at all to defend himself. That is the feeling.”
John O’Leary said that John O’Donoghue was feeling himself: “Naturally you wouldn’t expect a man like him to be feeling well at the moment now. He wouldn’t be feeling I would say his normal self.”
Eamon Keane put it to John O’Leary that the decision to appoint Dan Collins as political adviser to the Ceann Comhairle with a salary of 90,000 euro was John O’Donoghue’s decision: “I presume that’s a decision by the Government…He did, he initiated it. Of course, the role of the Ceann Comhairle has been greatly expanded in recent years, in the past few years.”
Eamon Keane made the point that staff numbers in the Ceann Comhairle had been expanded to ten by John O’Donoghue and that his predecessor Rory O’Hanlon only retained 3 staff: “Rory O’Hanlon wouldn’t be dealing with a fraction of the constituency work that John O’Donoghue would be dealing with from South Kerry.
“There are huge crowds looking for him, people looking for him day and night. There’s a huge difference between South Kerry and Monaghan. South Kerry is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the whole of Ireland.”
Eamon Keane asked why did John O’Donoghue have staff to help him get re-elected through clinic work when the Ceann Comhairle is automatically re-elected:
“Because he had to keep the party people happy and not alone party people, people across the divide. People were lining up looking for him everywhere. And to be quite honest he certainly gave tremendous assistance to communities. The amount of money over the years that he pumped into the playing fields and community halls and all all those things for the benefit of the community . I know very well it was taxpayers’ money but it was the first opportunity for a long long time in many many years of getting their fair share of the national cake.”
It was put to John O’Leary that John O’Donoghue’s spending got out of hand when he had chauffeurs waiting at race tracks: “I would not say that at all. The times there were-it was the time of the roaring tiger where the country was awash with money. “
Eamon Keane asked if it’s right that an office holder spends taxpayer’s money extravagantly if the country is awash with money: “No no no. I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that the chairman of the national parliament is expected, when he goes abroad is expected to go abroad with dignity and decorum. Aside from his public engagements, he was allowed to take a day or two off.”