Saturday 18 January 2020

Former TD Dara Murphy says he will cooperate with independent inquiry into expenses claims controversy

Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy. Photo: Collins
Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy. Photo: Collins
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy has called for an independent inquiry into the controversy over his expenses claims insisting he has broken no rules and had the “full and unqualified support” of Fine Gael.

In his first public comments for more than three weeks, Mr Murphy said he would contact Leinster House authorities early in the new year to see how best to progress the issue.

The former Cork North Central TD said he was happy to provide evidence to support his position to “the agreed appropriate body”.

He said he had the “full and unqualified support” of Fine Gael when he took up the role of campaign director for Fine Gael’s EU grouping, the European People’s Party (EPP).

Mr Murphy continued to draw a TD’s salary and claims Dáil expenses while in his new role.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said at the weekend he was “annoyed” that Mr Murphy had rebuffed his efforts to get him to account for himself.

Mr Varadkar said: “It seems the only way that we can have a statutory inquiry is if he refers himself to the ethics committee, or the Ethics in Public Office Act.

“I have asked him to do so. As of now, he’s not willing to do so. I’m annoyed about that, quite frankly, and a lot of people in Fine Gael are annoyed about that too. And I’d be calling on him to reconsider that decision.”

In a statement issued tonight, Mr Murphy said: “It remains my intention to establish that I have not broken any rules with respect to my attendance or related expenses paid to me during me time as a TD and vice president and campaign director of the EPP.

“I believe it will be possible to find an independent person or process to facilitate this.

“Secondly I would like to reiterate and clarify that I have had, from the very beginning of my time in the role of leading the campaign for Europe’s largest political grouping, the full and unqualified support of Fine Gael.

“I am also happy to provide evidence of this to the agreed appropriate body.

“I will contact the Ceann Comhairle and Clerk of the Dáil to see how best to progress this very early in the new year,” he added.

Earlier, Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Irish Independent he has been unable to speak with Mr Murphy who resigned as a TD earlier this month to take up a €150,000-a-year role in the European Commission.

Mr Coveney said he has tried to make contact with Mr Murphy about the controversy – but to no avail.

Mr Murphy backed his Cork colleague during the Fine Gael leadership battle in 2017.

Asked whether he had made any intervention to urge the former TD to be answerable for his expenses claims, Mr Coveney said: “The honest answer to this is that I haven’t actually spoken to him.

“I’ve tried to get him a couple of times. He’s also tried to call me back a few times.

“I haven’t spoken to him directly so I can’t really comment on that,” he added.

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