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Paul Murphy sends letter claiming he was 'defamed' by the Taoiseach

“You were acquitted but that doesn’t mean your behaviour was right.”

Paul Murphy.
Paul Murphy.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

SOLIDARITY TD PAUL Murphy has told the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl that he feels comments made about him by the Taoiseach are defamatory.

Ó Fearghaíl has referred the complaint to the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Leo Varadkar accused the Dublin south-west TD of “thuggery” during an anti water charges protest in 2014 at which then-Tánaiste Joan Burton was present.

Murphy and five other men were last month acquitted of false imprisonment.

On Tuesday, Varadkar described the protest as “like a scene from Lord of the Flies”.

“You’re not the victim here,” Varadkar told Murphy.

You were acquitted but that doesn’t mean your behaviour was right.

Varadkar said Murphy’s actions were “thuggery”.

“Instead of trying to present yourself as a victim…what you should do is offer an apology.”

In a letter sent today, Murphy and party colleagues Mick Barry and Ruth Coppinger said that they felt the comments defamed him. They say that he and other TDs are in violation of Oireachtas standing order 61.

The Taoiseach clearly alleges that Deputy Murphy was involved in ‘anger’, ‘virulence’ and throwing a water balloon by saying that “all of those things were behaviour that is unbecoming of a Member of this House.” These are false allegations, which are defamatory.

“During these exchanges, Minister for Justice Deputy Charlie Flanagan said, ‘More threats’. This is a defamatory accusation implying that Deputy Murphy had previously made threats against members of the House or others.

“We believe that Deputy Bernard Durkan is also in breach of Standing Order 61. On numerous occasions he directly alleged, or implied, that Deputy Murphy had falsely imprisoned two people.

He directly accused Deputy Murphy of false imprisonment when he said “You held them inside for three hours”, and later, “We know that you held captive two women for three hours.” When Deputy Durkan posed the question “Who detained two women?” he clearly implies that an act of false imprisonment occurred.

“We further believe that Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor violated Standing Order 61 when she, too, made defamatory allegations that Deputy Murphy had engaged in false imprisonment.

We also believe that Minister Heather Humphrey’s remark, in reference to Deputy Murphy, “bully boy”, represents a clear breach of the spirit of ruling 428 in Salient Rulings of the Chair (Fourth Edition) which deals with insulting and abusive expressions applied to a Member.

“Deputy Murphy has been found not guilty of false imprisonment. It is also a matter of public record that Deputy Murphy never engaged in, nor encouraged violence or threatening or abusive behaviour in any way. Deputy Murphy is entitled to have his good name and integrity upheld against these allegations and insinuations.”

The Ceann Comhairle yesterday referred Murphy’s own comments on the evidence given by gardaí at his trial to the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure.

Read: Paul Murphy’s comments about gardaí to be referred to Oireachtas committee

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