Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who is paid a salary of €87,258, has been criticised for seeking legal aid in his pending trial for the false imprisonment of Tánaiste Joan Burton.
Legal aid was yesterday assigned to Mr Murphy in relation to his trial on charges of falsely imprisoning Ms Burton at a water charges protest in late 2014.
A trial date has not yet been fixed for Mr Murphy, aged 32, of The Copse, Woodpark, Ballinteer.
The Dublin South West TD, under an agreement with the AAA, takes only an average industrial wage and donates the remainder of his salary to help fund party activities.
The most recent chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, said the decision to assign legal aid is “unacceptable”.
“He gets well paid, as do we all. What he decides to do with it is up to him,” said Mr McGuinness. “He has a duty to the taxpayer, as someone who gets a high salary, to represent himself in court and not be relying on the State.
“At a time when the free legal aid system is as stretched as it is — there are huge queues in many cases — it is not acceptable. He has an income, he is not on the breadline. I don’t think the free legal aid system was developed with that in mind.
“As far as defending himself, he should be paying it himself. It is pretty clear cut for me.”
Mr Murphy was sent forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on two charges of false imprisonment of Ms Burton and of aide Karen O’Connell at Fortunestown Rd, Jobstown, on November 15, 2014.
Yesterday, his solicitor said he was making an application for legal aid and handed in a statement of means. He said the State was on notice and had no objection, and that the trial could last four to six weeks.
The State solicitor confirmed there was no Garda objection based on the figures in the documentation.
Judge Melanie Greally said that, based on the average weekly income in the documentation, she would assign legal aid.
The figures in the documentation were not disclosed in open court.
Ms Burton and her entourage had left an event at An Cosan Education Centre at Jobstown, Tallaght, when a demonstration was held which delayed her for about two hours on November 15, 2014.
She and her team had been attempting to travel by car to St Thomas’ Church for the rest of the ceremony when the alleged incident occurred.
Mr Murphy’s case will be mentioned in court again next Tuesday.
When contacted by the Irish Examiner, Mr Murphy said he could not comment on legal advice.
The taxpayer looks set to be hit with a legal bill of almost €100,000 should the trial last the six weeks.
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