The most disappointing aspect of the controversy surrounding Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy and his expense claims is not that a politician appears to have maximised his taxpayer-funded income in very questionable circumstances — indeed it is an indictment of Irish politics that this is almost to be expected.
No, the most disappointing aspect has been the response of Leo Varadkar to this whole affair.
The Taoiseach’s mealy-mouthed statement that his Cork North Central TD attended the Dáil for at least 120 days does not justify the fact that Dara Murphy claimed full salary and expenses despite being absent for the majority of Dáil sitting days over the past two years, as a result of working in another job in Brussels.
Fobbing into the Dáil on Mondays and Fridays may make him technically “compliant” with the rules regarding expense claims, but it in no way indicates that he represented the interests of his constituents.
For the leader of the Government to not only fail to publicly admonish such behaviour but actually tacitly defend it is a slap in the face of the people of Cork North Central as well as the taxpayers who fund the salaries and expenses of TDs, who are supposed to work for the people of this country — not swan off to a second job in Europe.
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 3 December 2019.