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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
DPA/PA Images Dara Murphy (right) stepped down as a TD to take a job in Europe.

Taoiseach says wrong impression being created that Dara Murphy was 'totally absent' from the Dáil

Murphy was 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.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has come to the defence of former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy, claiming that he has been present for more Dáil votes in this calendar year than Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. 

The issue, which has been raised with the Taoiseach for over a week, was highlighted again in the Dáil today.

Earlier today, Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe told reporters that he personally has not asked Murphy to present himself to the Dail Ethics Committee for investigation. 

An inquiry can only happen if Murphy agrees to present himself for investigation.

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.

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.

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin today asked the Taosieach if would be willing to return the money that Fine Gael received to support Murphy in is work as a TD. 

In response, Leo Varadkar said: 

“I think an impression is being created that we was totally absent from the Dáil for two years – that of course isn’t true. In fact, he was present for more votes in this calendar year than deputy [Micheál] Martin was and the same number as deputy Martin was since the middle of July.”

He told Martin that he “shouldn’t be so sensitive” and asked the Fianna Fáil leader if TDs from his party caught up in the votegate controversy “will be rewarded” with becoming ministers if Fianna Fáil make it into government next year. 

Martin said the Taoiseach’s “personal attacks” in recent days “impresses no one”.

While Varadkar repeated that he wants to see an inquiry take place into Murphy, no clarity has been forthcoming from government as to what form it will take and when it will happen. 

Three bodies the Taoiseach suggested should carry out an investigation have all stated it is not under their remit.

The Dáil Ethics Committee determined last week 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. 


Last week, the Taoiseach stated that Murphy is willing to fully comply with any inquiry. 

Speaking to reporters today, Donohoe was asked if he had asked Murphy to put himself forward for investigation.

“Given that I haven’t been engaged with him directly myself, the answer to that question is no,” he said.

He added that despite his “expectation and indeed understanding” that there were ways of dealing with issues such as these relating to former TDs, Donohoe said it has become apparent that the current framework has “real limitations and constraints if the person is no longer a member of the Oireachtas”.

“We need to change that in the future… Because Mr Murphy is no longer a member of the Dail it has since become evident to me that the ways of dealing with these issues for an existing member of OIreachtas and a former member of oireachtas are very, very different. That needs to change. And I will find a way in which we can change that.

“But the issue that we have is in the here and now, and I’m aware of the fact that we need to come up with a way of dealing with this issue to answer what are legitimate questions,” he said. 

He added that there has been contact with Murphy on the matter, stating:

“Before we can conclude on what way of dealing with the issue is, we need to be clear how this matter can be inquired into.”

Donohoe said the “government is dealing with the issue, and the Department of an Taoiseach and I will come up with a way of inquiring into this matter”.

He added that if he were in the same sort of circumstances as Murphy finds himself, he would want to find a way in which these matters could be concluded”.

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