Friday 24 November 2017

Taxi driver in Murphy row canvassed for FF

Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and E.U Single Digital Market Dara Murphy
Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and E.U Single Digital Market Dara Murphy

Martin Grant and Brian O'Reilly

The taxi driver at the centre of the ongoing controversy surrounding the decision by Fine Gael Minister Dara Murphy to get a lift with gardaí from Cork to Dublin Airport is a Fianna Fáil activist.

Gerdy Murphy, owner of Gerald Murphy Minicabs, spoke to the Fine Gael politician by phone after his car broke down on the side of the motorway and offered to drive him to the airport.

Mr Murphy has claimed the minister turned down the offer because he was concerned that he was facing a taxi bill of €300-€350.

The minister has denied the claim.

The Cork North Central TD yesterday apologised to anyone who felt his use of a garda car to travel to an airport was inappropriate.

However, he refused to concede he made a mistake in accepting the lift in the early hours of the morning.

The minister has been in the spotlight since it emerged that on-duty gardaí drove him and his wife over 200km from Cork to Dublin Airport so that he could make a meeting in Brussels last month.

Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, he said he was presented with a difficult situation after being left stranded on the side of a motorway because his car broke down.

"I think it was a very difficult situation I was presented with and I fully understand why people, who are aware of the limited garda resources, will and do say it was inappropriate."

The TD also claimed there is Government protocol that allows ministers to phone gardaí for assistance as a last resort. A Government spokesman confirmed such a protocol exists.

The Irish Independent has learned that taxi driver Gerdy Murphy, who took the phone call from the TD, canvassed alongside Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for the party's Cork East general election candidate, Councillor Kevin O'Keeffe.

Gerdy Murphy has also been on two European Parliament tours with Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley and former MEP Gerry Collins.

The taxi driver insists that he did not know he was speaking to a Fine Gael minister and that his political affiliation has "nothing to do" with the issue.

"My allegiance is Fianna Fáil and I'll make no bones about that. But this has nothing got to do with politics. All I was trying to do was rectify a situation.

"There was a taxi available and it was turned down when the cost was mentioned.

"I never knew until Friday morning when I read the article as to who I was dealing with," the taxi driver told the Irish Independent last night.

Meanwhile, the political pressure on the Fine Gael politician intensified yesterday.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he believed the minister should have given a complete account of the events relating to the incident at an earlier stage.

"There was meant to be a new era in politics. It seems to me that there were alternatives available. He should apologise," Mr Martin said.

Irish Independent

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