Harris says Murphy should pay back some of the expenses he claimed when in Dáil

Minister for Health says be understands all expenses for any TD are still auditable for up to five years

Simon Harris: “There are still functions whereby audits can be carried out and investigations can take place, and I’m sure that will happen”

Simon Harris: “There are still functions whereby audits can be carried out and investigations can take place, and I’m sure that will happen”

 

Former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy should pay back some of the expenses he claimed during his time in the Dáil, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

Mr Harris said the former Cork North Central Deputy, who resigned his Dáil seat last week, should return some of the expenses, but did not say exactly how much would be appropriate.

Mr Murphy has been at the centre of a controversy about his non-attendance at Leinster House while claiming a Dáil salary and expenses. He has spent much of the last two years working with the European Peoples Party, to which Fine Gael is affiliated.

He had the lowest attendance record of all 158 TDs before his resignation, and had not spoken in the Dáil for almost two years.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that if Mr Murphy is found to have claimed expenses incorrectly he should pay the money back.

Mr Harris said on Tuesday that Mr Murphy should repay some of what he claimed.

“I think he should, but I think before you and I decide what that level should be, I think it would be useful for somebody who’s not you or I to have a look at this.

“And whilst he’s no longer a member of Dáil Éireann my understanding is that all expenses for any TD are still auditable for up to five years. All of us get that information every year when we make a declaration that says it’s auditable for up to five years even when you’re not a TD any longer.

Previous year

“And so I do know, for example, if you lost your seat in the general election you could still be audited for your expenses for the previous year you were a TD. So there are still functions whereby audits can be carried out and investigations can take place, and I’m sure that will happen.”

The Dáil Members’ Interests Committee can conduct an investigation into Mr Murphy’s attendance, but only if the former Cork North Central Deputy requests an inquiry be carried out himself.

While the Standards in Public Office Commission cannot pursue an investigation because Mr Murphy has resigned ahead of taking up a job in the European Commission, the committee can do so under the provisions of the 1995 Ethics Act if Mr Murphy asks it to do so.

Members of the committee said they have yet to consider the matter.