Latest: Outgoing Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy has insisted he has “been compliant” with Leinster House rules about his attendance at all times.
Following the Irish Examiner revealed last Tuesday that he is intending resigning his post to take up a role in the European Commission, his poor attendance at Leinster House since 2017 has been the subject of media focus.
In a statement released on Saturday night, Mr Murphy said he as a TD he is entitled to have another occupation.
“Following recent media and political commentary, I wish to state that at all times I have been compliant with rules for attendance at Leinster House. I will continue to provide any evidence required to the appropriate authorities. I attended the required 120 days at Leinster House in 2018 and should achieve the requisite number for 2019 and will make the statutory return when due,” he said.
“As a Minister of State, I was precluded under law from any other occupation. As a TD, I (and every other TD) can have another occupation. Many of my colleagues in Dáil Éireann do so - some colleagues have legal, medical, business, farming etc interests,” he added.
“I have remained in the political environment. Fine Gael nominated me in 2015 as a European Peoples Party (EPP) Vice President and I was successfully elected. The EPP is the largest political group in Europe with more than 80 member parties,” Mr Murphy said.
“Most Irish political parties have an affiliation to a European political grouping and various members of the Oireachtas engage with their own groups in different capacities. In October 2017, I was elected as EPP European Election Campaign Director. European elections and politics are very important for all the people of Europe and this is particularly the case for Ireland at this time in our history,” he added.
“I would like to thank the Taoiseach, Fine Gael and the Governments Whips’ office for their support during these successful elections for our party grouping,” he said.
Earlier: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Cork Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy is willing to cooperate with any inquiry into his parliamentary attendance records and expense claims following widespread criticism about his absenteeism from the Dail.
The controversy centres over the Cork North Cental TD's time over the last two years working for the European People's Party in Europe (the EU political grouping for Fine Gael) as opposed to being in the Dail or his constituency, while still claiming his €96,000-year salary.
The Irish Examiner revealed last week that Mr Murphy is now set to step down as a TD shortly to take up a high-profile job with the European Commission.
His resignation will also give the Fine Gael-led government another headache when it comes to Dail votes.
Fianna Fáil has been very critical of Mr Murphy. The Opposition party has called for the Dáil's ethics body, the Committee of Members' Interests, to investigate his record.
Speaking earlier, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan admitted that his party colleague, Mr Murphy, had "a number of questions to answer”.
He said it was "incumbent" on the former Minister of State for European Affairs to answer those questions.
Asked about the controversy as he arrived in Dublin Mid West for a by-election count there this evening, Mr Varadkar said his TD would cooperate with any probe.
“I was in contact with Dara earlier today. He's willing to provide documentation and cooperate with any investigation that may be carried out either by the ethics committee in the Dail or by the standards commission.
He said it was up to the Ceann Comhairle or the Houses of the Oireachtas to review attendance record rules for TDs.