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If investigation finds Dara Murphy broke the rules he should pay back the money, says Taoiseach

Murphy is taking up a €150,000 a year job in the European Commission.

Dara Murphy will be entitled to over €500,000 in taxpayer-funded termination and pension payments following his resignation as a TD.
Dara Murphy will be entitled to over €500,000 in taxpayer-funded termination and pension payments following his resignation as a TD.
Image: Sam Boal

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that if an investigation into Dara Murphy’s expenses finds that he did break the rules, then he should pay the money back. 

He also told reporters today that the Clerk of the Dáil should carry out the inquiry into the controversy. 

Yesterday, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) could investigate the concerns relating to the former TD. 

However, Sipo confirmed to TheJournal.ie that this is not the case as Murphy has ceased to be a TD. The Dáil’s Ethic Committee has also been ruled out for the same reason. 

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

The Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests had been asked to examine whether or not Murphy breached ethics legislation by claiming his full allowance while he was largely absent from Dáil over the past two years.

“I think what should happen is there should be a proper investigation,” said Leo Varadkar. 

“My view is that investigation should happen first, and if the investigation finds that he broke the rules, then absolutely he should it pay back, but my view is always due process and natural justice. You have an investigation and then you have an outcome, you don’t have an outcome, and then have an investigation,” he added. 

The Taoiseach said questions have been raised about Murphy’s attendance and expenses.

“Those questions need to be answered. Dara Murphy has agreed to participate and cooperate with any investigation. I understand that he may not be able to have an investigation by the ethics committee, or by Sipo, as he’s now a former member of the Dáil, but it would be possible, for example, for the clerk with the Dail to carry out an investigation. I think something like that will be appropriate.

“I think there, there are two questions there. One is did Dara Murphy break the rules or not and that requires an investigation. I think there should be an investigation, he’s willing to cooperate with us,” said Varadkar.

“There’s a wider question as to whether the rules are too lax and they are too lax. I said that in the Dail yesterday, and as a consequence of that, I wrote to the Ceann Comhairle and also to the party leaders to suggest that we ask the Standards Commission or an independent body to come in and overhaul this regime, which I think is two lax and is open to abuse,” said the Taoiseach. 

In a statement announcing his resignation on Tuesday, Murphy said he would “of course co-operate with any relevant statutory procedure that may be initiated.”

He added: “In addition, I would like to acknowledge and give thanks for the support I have received from so many people: the Taoiseach and the Fine Gael Party, at local and national level; my family; and most importantly I would like to thank the people of Cork North Central.”

Announcing his resignation, Murphy confirmed his intention to take up a €150,000 a year job in the European Commission.

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