Sipo unable to investigate Dara Murphy after resignation

Ex-Fine Gael TD will receive more than €50,000 gross in severance under Oireachtas scheme

 Fianna Fáil has lodged an official complaint about Dara Murphy with the Dáil Members Interests Committee. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Fianna Fáil has lodged an official complaint about Dara Murphy with the Dáil Members Interests Committee. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Neither the Standards in Public Office Commission nor the Dáil Members’ Interests Committee will be able to investigate complaints about the former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy because he has resigned, the commission has confirmed.

The commission said that contrary to a suggestion by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil, it could not investigate Mr Murphy now he is no longer a TD.

The Dáil committee which handles complaints about TDs cannot investigate the matter either, the commission said.

“Complaints about a person who has ceased to be a TD . . . cannot be dealt with by either the Committee or the Standards Commission,” the commission said in a statement.

The Irish Times also understands that there will be no meeting of the Dáil Members Interests Committee this week. Fianna Fáil has lodged an official complaint about Mr Murphy with the committee.

Mr Murphy resigned his seat minutes after the vote of no confidence in the Minister for Housing was defeated on Tuesday night.

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 now taken up a position with the European Commission in Brussels, having spent much of the last two years working with the European Peoples Party, to which Fine Gael is affiliated.

Lump sum

Under Dáil rules, Mr Murphy is entitled to a tax free lump sum, which the Oireachtas authorities say is generally equivalent to about two month’s salary, or about €16,000. In addition, under a scheme for Oireachtas members who resign or lose their seats, he will be entitled to receive 75 per cent of his monthly salary – or about €6,000 gross – for six months.

Altogether, he will receive more than €50,000 gross in severance payments. His European Commission salary is expected to be in the region of €150,000.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil that he had spoken to Mr Murphy “about his remuneration and expenses”.

“He confirmed that he is willing to submit to any formal investigation regarding his conduct, whether it involves his remuneration, expenses or whatever, and that can be done by the ethics committee or the Standards In Public Office Commission,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil in response to questions by the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Complied

The Taoiseach said Mr Murphy was also willing “if it cannot be done by those bodies for some reason . . . to put all of the information in front of the Clerk of the Dáil who can examine whether he complied with the rules and regulations of this House”.

Mr Murphy has insisted that he was in compliance with the Dáil’s rules for the entire period.

Mr Martin told the Dáil that Mr Murphy had “effectively become an absentee TD while drawing his full salary” and reducing his work as a TD to “near zero”.

“The people are angry out there about this. They’re talking about it everywhere,” the Fianna Fáil leader said. “You approved this - you okayed it,” he told the Taoiseach.

Mr Murphy’s behaviour is “morally unsustainable” as he had “abandoned” the people of the northside of Cork city.