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Paschal Donohoe says Verona Murphy wasn't made to apologise by Fine Gael

Donohoe also said that Murphy’s views on immigration were not known by the party ahead of the by-election campaign.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.
Image: Sam Boal

FINANCE MINISTER PASCHAL Donohoe has said that Verona Murphy was not asked by Fine Gael to apologise for controversial comments she made during the Wexford by-election campaign.

Donohoe was speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland after Murphy spoke publicly yesterday about being dumped from Fine Gael’s general election ticket in Wexford. 

Murphy told South East Radio that it was Donohoe who had informed her of the party’s decision. 

The decision was taken in the wake of a controversial by-election campaign which saw her come in for sustained criticism for a series of comments about migrants.

In yesterday’s interview, Murphy made further comments about immigration that have led to more criticism

Murphy, President of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), apologised for comments she made during the campaign but Donohoe said today this was not done at the request of the party. 

“No, this was an apology she offered herself after working closely with minister Charlie Flanagan, who was working with her at the time,” Donohoe said. 

What I would say is that for somebody to move into politics for the first time, and then move into a by-election setting ,which I’ve done myself with all of the questioning all of the correct media scrutiny. And that media scrutiny is correct, that sometimes when you’re handling that for the first time, it can be challenging. 

During the campaign, Murphy made a controversial visit a migrant reception centre and apologised for earlier comments she made. 

Flanagan, who was Murphy’s director of elections, rejected criticism of her visit to the centre.

Speaking this morning, Donohoe also said Murphy’s views were not known before she ran in the by-election campaign as she had not stated them publicly before. 

Instead, he said that she has “formidable” qualities that made her a good candidate. 

“I know Verona, I worked with her when I was Minister for Transport.

And I want to acknowledge that Verona has many other qualities that are really, really formidable and she has achieved much in her life. During my engagement in working with her and sharing the many interviews I heard she gave, I’ll be very honest with you, I did not form to view that Verona felt like this about masters in relation to our society.

Dara Murphy  

Donohoe was also asked about Fine Gael’s former Cork North Central TD Dara Murphy who 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.

Dáil authorities have been unable to investigate Dara Murphy’s record and expenses due to the fact that he is no longer a TD.

Donohoe says he feels this is wrong and should be changed. 

It has turned out that because Dara Murphy is no longer a member of the Oireachtas, the way of dealing with this is not as efficient as I thought it would be. I plan to change that. I don’t think it is appropriate that if somebody has now left the Oireachtas, we don’t have a process in place in which these matters can be speedily dealt with.

“And my plan is to do two things in relation to this. Number one is to change the processes for that in the future. So even if you are no longer in public life, matters of public interest can be dealt with and number two as the Taoiseach has indicated, we do need to change our expenses regime in the future. So the perception of an issue like this can no longer develop.”

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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