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Coveney agrees Dara Murphy should present himself for investigation over his expenses

Coveney says he has not spoken to Dara Murphy.

Former Cork TD Dara Murphy
Former Cork TD Dara Murphy
Image: Sam Boal

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY said he agrees with the Taoiseach’s viewpoint on Dara Murphy that he should put himself forward for investigation in relation to his attendance and expenses. 

Despite telling Leo Varadkar that he would co-operate with any inquiry into the matter, the Taoiseach said in recent days that Murphy is now refusing to take part. 

“I have asked him to do so. As of now, he’s not willing to do so. I’m annoyed about that, quite frankly, and a lot of people in Fine Gael are annoyed about that too. And I’d be calling on him to reconsider that decision,” the Taoiseach said.

However, yesterday evening it was reported that Murphy has now vowed to co-operate, with perhaps an independent person being tasked with carrying out an inquiry. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Coveney said he has not spoken to his former constituency colleague and did not feel he could answer the question as to whether Murphy had let down the people of Cork in terms of representation. 

“But certainly, I agree with the Taoiseach on this, in terms of trying to bring this issue to closure. I’m very much in the same space that he’s at,” he said. 

Questions have been raised about Murphy working in Brussels while also being a sitting TD in the Dáil.

In recent weeks, it has also been highlighted that 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, faced criticism in relation to his attendance and expenses, and stepped down as representative at the end of last month. 

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.

Murphy has now taken up a €150,000 a year job in the European Commission.

The clerk of the Dáil, the Standards in Public Office (Sipo), as well as the Dáil Ethics Committee have all stated that they do not have the powers in investigate the matter as Murphy is no longer a TD.

The only way an inquiry could take place is if Murphy presents himself to the ethics committee and agrees to an inquiry.

When asked if he felt the issue of Murphy was something that was coming up on the doorsteps in Cork, Coveney said “most people are focused on more practical things that impact their own lives” as opposed to “personalities” at play within politics. 

From his experience of being out and about and chatting to people, constituents are interested in Brexit, housing developments in Cork, health care reform, and jobs.

Rather than “personality issues” in the party, Coveney said Fine Gael is “anxious to focus on what the party has to offer to the country”. 

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