Friday 22 September 2017

Dáil watchdog to investigate claims by Paul Murphy that he was defamed

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Paul Murphy TD
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Paul Murphy TD

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

A Dáil watchdog is to investigate claims by Solidarity TD Paul Murphy that he was defamed in the Dáil by the Taoiseach, three ministers and a government backbencher.

Mr Murphy and two of his colleagues wrote to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl to complain about comments made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and others during Wednesday's heated debate on the fallout from the Jobstown trial.

The Dublin South West deputy, who was acquitted of all charges, all singles out Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Arts  Minister Heather Humphreys, Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Kildare deputy Bernard Durkan, for criticism.

In relation to Mr Varadkar, Mr Murphy cited the Taoiseach's likening of the protest in 2014 to the Lord of the Flies'.

"I was particularly struck by the moment when a vote was taken as to whether the two women should be detained all night. That was more like a scene from Lord of the Flies than a scene from a peaceful protest," Mr Varadkar said. His quote was cited in an email to the Ceann Comhairle sent by Mr Murphy today.

Mr Murphy and his party colleagues Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry said the claims are defamatory.

"Deputy Murphy never made these remarks, nor did anyone on the Jobstown protest; this was clearly demonstrated in the recent court case and is therefore on the public record. To attribute these words to Deputy Murphy, or anyone on that protest, is significant as it would be an important piece of evidence pointing to committing false imprisonment. Deputy Murphy has requested that the Taoiseach retract these remarks, which he has not done."

Other remarks by the Fine Gael politicians also also labelled defamatory.

In response to Mr Murphy, the Office of the Ceann Comhairle confirmed the claims will be referred to the Committee for Procedure and Privileges (CPP) for investigation

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