A Cork TD is embroiled in controversy after it emerged he asked two on-duty gardaí to drive him to Dublin Airport to catch an early-morning flight to Brussels after his car broke down.
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy confirmed he sought the help after his car broke down on the motorway outside Mitchelstown in rural Cork at 3am on Sunday, September 13, while he was travelling to catch a 6.40am flight to an EU meeting later that day.
The Cork North Central Fine Gael TD told the Irish Examiner the situation was an “emergency” and he and his driver had unsuccessfully attempted to get a taxi before contacting Fermoy Garda Station.
However, he has been criticised for diverting gardaí from their duty to undertake the 214km trip —instead of leaving him at the next town to find a taxi.
When contacted, Mr Murphy said his car broke down while he was on “government business” and that lunch-time flight seats were “unavailable”.
A later Sunday evening journey was ruled out because Mr Murphy was due to meet the Irish ambassador to Belgium that evening before chairing and attending two migrant crisis meetings on Monday morning.
Mr Murphy said that on his return to Ireland, he spoke to Garda Superintendent Ger Dillane, who said there was no extra costs as the officers were on duty.
However, constituency colleague and Labour senator John Gilroy said Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald should explain why gardaí ferried a minister across the country when they had “more important things to do”.
Mr Murphy also made the headlines earlier this year after it emerged that the taxpayer was left with a €30,000 bill after he and group of officials were jetted home from Latvia to vote in the marriage equality referendum.
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