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Dáil ethics watchdog the third body to rule itself out of investigating Dara Murphy complaints

The finance minister has said he will look for an alternative way to investigate the complaint.

Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy
Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy
Image: Brian Lawless

THE DÁIL’S MEMBERS Interests Committee has become the third body to state that it does not have the power to investigate complaints about  former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy.

The Dáil committee met this morning to consider a complaint by Fianna Fáil whip Michael Moynihan that Murphy’s attendance record and expenses be investigated. 

However, today the committee determined that it cannot investigate the complaint as Murphy is no longer a TD. 

Other than the committee, the Standards in Public Office (Sipo), as well as the Clerk of the Dail have stated that they do not have the jurisdiction to investigate. 

A spokesperson for the Houses of the Oireachtas said in a statement to TheJournal.ie: 

“The Clerk of the Dáil has no jurisdiction in this matter. DPER [Department of Public Expenditure and Reform] make the regulations and we implement them.”

Meanwhile, Sipo confirmed to TheJournal.ie that as Murphy has ceased to be a TD they cannot investigate. 

The Standards watchdog also noted that the Dáil’s Ethic Committee is also ruled out for the same reason. 

Murphy, formerly a Cork North Central TD, has faced criticism in recent weeks over reports around his attendance at Leinster House. 

The former minister of State has been based in Brussels for the past two years where he has worked as full-time director of elections for the European People’s Party (EPP). Fine Gael is a member of the EPP, a political grouping in the European Union.

Questions have been raised about Murphy working in Brussels while also being a sitting TD in the Dáil. Questions have also been raised about how Murphy has been in Leinster House on 24 sitting days out of 70 in the first nine months of 2019 and just 42 of the 104 sitting days during 2018.

Last week, the Taoiseach stated that Murphy is willing to fully comply with any inquiry, and floated the idea of the three bodies mentioned carrying out an inquiry. 

Speaking to reporters today, Varadkar said: “I can’t prescribe which competent authority should [carry out the investigation], but I think there should be an investigation.”

He added that if this investigation found that Murphy broke the rules, he “absolutely” should return any money he should not have received. 

Varadkar said he “certainly could have” asked Murphy to resign from this role, but he chose not to do so. 

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said he will work with the Houses of the Oireachtas to develop “another adequate way” in which the questions around the expenses of Murphy can be dealt with. 

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