Help Wanted

Willie O’Dea sought special treatment for twentynine inmates in a one year period. All of the representations were rejected.

O’Dea says he was ‘merely passing on representations on behalf of the relatives of inmates.’

The minister said he ‘supports the concept of legislation which would prevent TDs from making representations on inmates who are on remand or serving sentences.’

This is known as the ‘save me from myself’ defence.

TDs routinely petition the minister for justice on behalf of constituents who think they got a raw deal in the courts, and occasionally it gets them into hot water.

Labour TD Kathleen Lynch found herself in the middle of a row when she wrote a character reference for a rapist.

And last year, Fianna Fáil TD Tony Killeen got into trouble over representations for the early releases of a murderer and a rapist.

TDs devote much of their time to harvesting votes. Any letter, any phone call is worth it, if it means a vote secured in the next election.

And no deputy wants to refuse a constituent, in case an opponent steals a vote, so no request is refused.

And that’s why Willie wants you to rescue him from himself.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.