'I've been compliant at all times' - TD Dara Murphy breaks silence as he defends claiming full allowances despite Dáil absence
FINE Gael TD Dara Murphy has defended his decision to claim full allowances despite being largely absent from the Dáil for the past two years, insisting he is entitled to a second job and has complied with all rules on expenses.
In a statement seen by Independent.ie Mr Murphy, who is set to resign from the Dáil next month to take up a new EU job, has defended his decision to work as campaign director for the European People’s Party (EPP) since 2017 while he was also serving as a TD in Cork North-Central.
Mr Murphy has been the subject of an ethics complaint by Fianna Fáil for claiming full allowances as a TD despite being largely absent from the Dáil where he has not spoken since December 2017.
In his statement, the former EU Affairs Minister said he is not unlike other colleagues who have another occupation and insisted he has been compliant with all rules on attendance at Leinster House.
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Mr Murphy said in his statement: “Following recent media and political commentary I wish to state that at all times I have been compliant with rules for attendance at Leinster House. I will continue to provide any evidence required to the appropriate authorities.
“I attended at Leinster House the required 120 days in 2018 and should achieve the requisite number for 2019 and will make the statutory return when due .
“As a Minister of State I was precluded under law from any other occupation. As a TD (I and every other TD) can have another occupation. Many of my colleagues in Dáil Éireann do so. While some colleagues have Legal, Medical, Business, Farming etc interests, I have remained in the political environment.
“Fine Gael nominated me in 2015 as a European People’s Party Vice President and I was successfully elected. The EPP is the largest political group in Europe with more than 80 member parties.
“Most Irish political parties have affiliation to a European political grouping and various members of the Oireachtas engage with their own groups in different capacities. In October 2017 I was elected as EPP European Election Campaign Director.
“European elections and politics are very important for all the people of Europe and this is particularly the case for Ireland at this time in our history. I would like to thank the Taoiseach, Fine Gael and the Governments Whips office for their support during these successful elections for our party grouping.”
Earlier, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said Mr Murphy had questions to answer regarding his Dáil attendance record and his role with the EPP. “I believe it's important that he clear it up with a simple statement,” Mr Flanagan said. “He can put this matter to bed I believe he should."
Mr Murphy, who was first elected to the Dáil in 2011, announced in May 2018 he would not seek to retain his seat at the next election. This came a year after he was relieved of his brief as European Affairs and Data Protection Minister.
He is expected to eventually take up a high-ranking job in the EU Commission as a cabinet member for Bulgarian European Commissioner for Innovation Mariya Gabriel. The move requires him to resign as an elected representative immediately which is expected to happen in the coming weeks. He will earn a salary of around €150,000-per-year in the role.