Fact checking Willie O'Dea

Well the question was bound to come up on Questions and Answers, and it took a good bit of waffle before we could down to the meat of the question.

Enter random audience person with very specific question (18th minute):

…last week the Taioseach, when he was accused of rip off and mismanagement, stated and I quote, that the accusations were erroneous, not true, unfair and incorrect. If they guy at the top doesn’t think there’s a problem, what’s the story there?

Those words were used by the Taoiseach on October 4th during Leaders questions. To quote him:

…I will just touch on some of the issues. The PPARS system started off first in the mid 1990s when the health boards decided they needed a better payroll system because they did not even know how many people were working for them at the time. They looked at setting up a payroll system for a number of the health boards at the time and the estimated cost was €9 million or €10 million. Early estimates changed over the three-year period from 1998 to 2000 to €17 million. The highly respected Hay organisation undertook a full appraisal and review of the level of investment that would be required to finish the project properly, during its transition from a payroll system to a whole human resource management system that would be unlike what was envisaged or presented at the outset. The initial payroll system became a system dealing with personal information, pension payments, recruitment, time management and rostering. It became an entirely different system. The Deputy’s suggestion that the projected cost of the system increased from €10 million to €150 million is erroneous and unfair and should not be entertained.

[Emphasis added]

Now enter Willie O’Dea, master political tactician, but only recent recipient of cabinet level post.

O’Dea: I think, I think in fairness now, I have to refute that last comment. He wasn’t talking about a waste of public money. He was, he was, he was talking about some of the arguments advanced in the Dail, some of the other examples used. I mean he wasn’t referring directly to this. The Taoiseach came into the Dail, the Taoiseach came into the Dail and admitted, quite freely, quite freely, that there was a, quite freely, that this was just quite frankly unacceptable.

That is contrary to the facts. Go look. The answer given by the Taoiseach was in direct reply to a question specifically dealing with PPARS, and nothing else. And after looking through leaders questions from last week I have yet to find anywhere the Taoiseach ‘quite freely’ admitted it was unacceptable, if anything the tone of the Taoiseach was denial.

I guess one could say that Willie O’Dea lied. But that language might be too strong, might it not?

[Posted to Irish Corruption]