Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said TDs should be allowed to have a second job despite criticising the double jobbing of Fine Gael's Dara Murphy.
Mr Murphy has been under pressure over his decision to work as campaign director for the European People's Party, Fine Gael's EU grouping, for the past two years at the same time as he was continuing to be a TD for Cork North-Central while claiming full Dáil expenses and allowances.
He is due to resign as a TD this month to take up a new role in the cabinet of Bulgaria's European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. Mr Martin has said Mr Murphy should have resigned but rejected a suggestion by Fine Gael minister Patrick O'Donovan that the issue of TDs having a job outside of Leinster House needed to be looked at.
"I think it's an attempt by Patrick to try and divert and distract from the core issue that the people of the northside of Cork were neglected for two years where they didn't have a representative. They weren't represented on the ground. Dara, in my view, should have resigned when he got his, when he got that full-time job with the EPP," Mr Martin said.
But he defended the right of other TDs to have a second job or source of income in addition to their work in the Dáil.
"Parliament has to represent the diversity of people. So there will be self-employed people who will be elected to the parliament, there will be farmers elected to parliament, there will be a variety of professions and that's as it should be, in my view, in terms of a modern diverse parliament," he said. "I think if you start pronouncing that you can only have one job, that narrows the focus."
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said yesterday the Dáil's expenses regime was "far too lax" and should be overhauled. Leo Varadkar said the current system was "essentially designed for politicians by politicians and that should change" in the next Dáil.
Mr Murphy has defended his decision to claim full allowances despite being largely absent from Dáil debates for the past two years, insisting he is entitled to a second job and has complied with all rules.
Mr Varadkar said he had spoken to Mr Murphy and he was "willing to co-operate with any investigation by any statutory body into his attendance in Dáil Éireann... I think it's right and proper that he should do that".