Dara Murphy attended more Dáil votes than Fianna Fáil leader, Taoiseach claims

Varadkar and Martin in ongoing spat over former TD and ‘votegate’ Deputies

Former TD Dara  Murphy has been criticised for claiming over €50,000 in expenses while working full-time for the past two years in Brussels. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Former TD Dara Murphy has been criticised for claiming over €50,000 in expenses while working full-time for the past two years in Brussels. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hit out at reports that former minister of State Dara Murphy had been largely absent from the Dáil for the past two years.

Defending his former Cork North-Central TD, Mr Varadkar claimed Mr Murphy had been present in the Dáil this year for more votes than Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

The Taoiseach said: “I do think the impression has been created that he was totally absent from the Dáil for two years. That, of course, isn’t true.”

Mr Murphy, who resigned as a TD earlier this month, has been criticised for claiming over €50,000 in expenses while working full-time for the past two years as director of campaigns for the European People’s Party (EPP) in Brussels, the political grouping to which Fine Gael is affiliated.

The Taoiseach said of Mr Murphy: “In fact, he was present for more votes in this calendar year than Deputy Martin and on the same number as Deputy Martin was since the middle of July.”

“They’re the facts,” he insisted to Mr Martin, during an ongoing spat between the two leaders on the subject of Dáil voting.

Mr Martin has repeatedly raised the issue of Mr Murphy’s non-attendance in the Dáil while the Taoiseach has on a number of occasions asked if the TDs involved in the controversy over Dáil votes would be on the Fianna Fáil general election ticket.

Mr Varadkar said Mr Martin “shouldn’t be so sensitive” and said of the ‘votegate’ controversy that “if he’s willing to be critical of former members of my parliamentary party he should at least be willing to account for existing members of his parliamentary party who are now under investigation”.

He also asked if Mr Martin would “rule out considering them as being appointed as ministers should Fianna Fáil participate in the next government”.

On Tuesday the Taoiseach said there had been discussions with Mr Murphy about referring himself for investigation to the Dáil ethics committee, after it emerged that three public bodies were precluded from investigating him because he was no longer a TD.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said they were looking at ways to amendment ethics legislation to allow inquiries when complaints are made against former TDs.