Friday 6 December 2019

Fine Gael TD to quit Dáil for €150,000-a-year EU role

Brussels bound: Dara Murphy’s departure is a further headache for Leo Varadkar’s minority government. Picture: Robbie Reynolds
Brussels bound: Dara Murphy’s departure is a further headache for Leo Varadkar’s minority government. Picture: Robbie Reynolds
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Fine Gael's Dara Murphy will quit his €96,000-salary job as a TD in the coming weeks for a lucrative EU role that will pay him over €150,000 a year, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Mr Murphy has landed a job in the cabinet of the incoming European Commissioner for Innovation, Mariya Gabriel, who is Bulgaria's representative on the European Commission.

The move means he will have to resign as a TD for Cork North-Central next month, leaving Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his Fine Gael-led minority government with a further headache for what are likely to be a series of tight Dáil votes for the remainder of this term.

Mr Murphy will depart for Brussels with the backing of Mr Varadkar, however. The Taoiseach sacked him as European Affairs Minister when he took office in June 2017.

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Since then Mr Murphy has been largely absent from domestic politics after taking up a role as director of elections for the Fine Gael's EU grouping, the European People's Party.

Mr Murphy, who is well-regarded in Brussels circles, will be the equivalent of a special adviser to Ms Gabriel and will serve as an expert member of her cabinet of civil servants.

The role will put him on a European Commission salary scale that will see him earn between €11,363 and €12,856 per month before tax. Grades are usually determined based on the experience of those occupying the position. The Irish Independent has established that he will earn around €150,000 a year before tax. Mr Murphy, who was elected to the Dáil in 2011, has refused to comment on his expected appointment or his salary arrangements since details emerged earlier this week.

He had already confirmed in May of last year that he would not be standing in the next general election.

Mr Murphy's imminent resignation is unlikely to trigger another by-election, with the general election due to take place within six months of this new vacancy arising.

Ms Gabriel is the outgoing European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, having been appointed in 2017.

Her appointment and that of every other European Commissioner, including Ireland's Phil Hogan to the key trade portfolio, was ratified by a vote of the European Parliament yesterday.

The new commission, led by president Ursula von der Leyen, was approved by 461 votes to 157 against with 89 abstentions. The new intake of EU commissioners will formally take up their posts on December 1 for five years.

Irish Independent

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