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The curious case of the Fine Gael minister, the broken-down car and 214km garda dig-out

Dara Murphy is under pressure today after he asked gardaí to drive him from Cork to Dublin Airport earlier this month.

Dara Murphy was appointed European Affairs Minister in July 2014
Dara Murphy was appointed European Affairs Minister in July 2014
Image: Twitter

Updated 2.30pm

EUROPEAN AFFAIRS MINISTER Dara Murphy has been heavily criticised after it emerged he got two gardaí in Cork to drive him over 200 kilometres to Dublin for an early-morning flight.

The Fine Gael minister sought help after his car broke down on the motorway outside Mitchelstown in rural Cork at around 3am in the morning on 13 September.

There have been calls today for the minister to repay the cost of having the two gardaí drive him to the airport. However a spokesperson for Murphy declined to comment when asked if this would happen.

Murphy, who was travelling with his wife Tanya, was on his way to to Dublin Airport to catch a 6.40am flight to Brussels for a crucial EU meeting on the migrant crisis.

According to reports in the Irish Daily Star and Irish Examiner, Murphy and his driver contacted gardaí in Fermoy and two on-duty officers drove the minister to Dublin Airport – a 214 kilometre trip.

This followed what was apparently an unsuccessful attempt to secure roadside assistance from the AA and a taxi, with the Cork North-Central deputy insisting it was an “emergency”.

Mitchelstown to Cork Source: Google Maps

However, a taxi driver who phoned into Red FM’s Neil Prendiville Show this morning claimed he was contacted on behalf of Murphy on the morning in question. But when he told them that the fare would cost around €300 the service was declined.

Speaking to RedFM News, Murphy denied this was the case and said he’d actually offered to drive a taxi himself.

“I did have a conversation with a taxi driver. I did offer to actually drive a taxi myself but by the time he came back we were already heading to Dublin,” he explained.

He insisted that a taxi journey was not declined on the grounds of the fare being too high.

“No, it wasn’t. He said that he was finishing his shift I believe. We tried to ascertain if I could drive the car myself but that offer wasn’t available,” Murphy continued

I think there was a fare mentioned but by the time he would have come out we were already well gone by the time he came back, whether it was him or someone else who came back. Actually, I’m not sure.

Local sources pointed out that Murphy could have ordered a taxi from Cork city which would have picked him up within 20 minutes and driven him to Dublin.

Local Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said there was no doubt that Murphy needed to be in Brussels but said there were other options available. He told TheJournal.ie:

If I was a junior minister the first thing I would do is ring a family member or a friend. If I couldn’t get through to them I would have had enough local party members to ring to ask them for a lift.

“I don’t know what it’s like in Fine Gael but in my own party they would have been out and given me a lift. He should have had the common sense to know that a taxi could have been organised.”

O’Brien said that Murphy’s decision to ask gardaí to drive him was indicative of the “pure arrogance” of the current government.

It’s just arrogance. When I heard about this this morning my initial reaction was that I wasn’t surprised.

He said it was typical of Murphy’s arrogance that he had refused to apologise for the controversy.

A spokesperson for the minister said he would not be making any further comment on the matter.

It was previously reported that Murphy used the State jet, at a cost of €30,000, to fly home from an EU meeting in Latvia so that he could vote in the same-sex marriage referendum last May.

Read: Could Enda really go all the way to 2021?

Read: What on earth is Sinn Féin’s digital rising?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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