Decision at 3am to use garda escort a close call - minister
Published 26/09/2015 | 02:30
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy has said his decision to take a garda escort from Cork to Dublin Airport in the early hours of the morning was "a marginal call".
He has denied claims that taxis were available to bring him to the capital after his car broke down on the side of a motorway outside Fermoy at 3am.
One taxi driver has told the Irish Independent that he made himself available for a fee of €300-€350 but was immediately told alternative arrangements would be made. However, Mr Murphy said that while extensive efforts were made to find a taxi that was in the area and available to leave at short notice, none were available. He said some may have arrived after he had already left.
"We had tried for quite a long time. We didn't refuse any taxis. We were gone," said Mr Murphy.
The Cork TD was on his way to the capital for a 6.40am flight to Brussels for a meeting later on Sunday, September 13.
After his car broke down outside Mitchelstown, Mr Murphy's driver contacted a roadside assistance company but established that the car would not be fixed in time to continue the journey. "We did try to get a taxi and we didn't get one," he said.
Gardaí were then contacted to see if they could offer assistance and it was suggested that they could bring the minister to Portlaoise, where he could continue the journey in a taxi or via public transport. However, the two on-duty gardaí then offered to bring Mr Murphy and his wife all the way to the airport.
"The gardaí made a call that they had the resources. I made a judgment that I was attending Government business at an important meeting and took their help.
"Many people have been helped by the guards at times," Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent.
He said he can understand why some people feel it was inappropriate to have gardaí drive 200km so that he could make the flight. "It might have been a marginal call but it was 3am," he said.
Commenting on the incident, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was an "emergency situation". "My understanding is that the gardaí offered to help him. I don't have the details of it, I have been busy all day. Three o'clock in the morning, travelling to catch a flight to Brussels on business."