The Irish Times view on Dara Murphy’s Dáil activity: Here and there

FG TD signed into Dáil on dates when his tweets indicate he was abroad

The revelation that Cork North-Central TD Dara Murphy has claimed his full parliamentary and travel allowances of €4,300 a month for the past two years, despite spending most of his time in Brussels, raises serious issues for the TD and also for the way the Dáil operates.

Equally striking is the fact that he signed in on the Dáil electronic fobbing system on dates when his extensive tweets indicate that he was in locations such as Malta, Warsaw, Brussels and Paris. This suggests he recorded his attendance on the fobbing system as he passed through Dublin on the way to or from those destinations.

The disclosure comes in the wake of the controversy over the misuse of the electronic voting system in the Dáil and questions about how TDs and Senators operate the fobbing system for recording attendance.

Murphy, who has not spoken in the Dáil for almost two years, needs to provide a detailed explanation as to how he managed to fob in at Leinster House on days when he was in a variety of other locations. He also owes it to the voters of Cork North-Central who elected him to justify his expenses during the period.

Given that he lives in Cork, Murphy is automatically entitled to €51,600 a year in allowances, in addition to his €94,000 TD’s salary as long as he attends Leinster House on a minimum 120 days a year as recorded by the fobbing system.

Murphy has been based in Brussels for the past two years, where he has worked as campaign manager for the European People's Party (EPP), the centre-right grouping of which Fine Gael is a member.

He is scheduled to take up a new post as deputy head of cabinet for Bulgarian EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel in the coming weeks. If that appointment goes ahead as planned he will resign from the Dáil.

The episode has again exposed deep flaws in the regime of TDs’ expenses. The credibility and reputation of the political system demands urgent reform of the way expenses and travel allowances are calculated and a new system for recording attendance.