Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended Dáil absentee TD Dara Murphy but said he has not discussed the deputy's expected resignation with him.
The Irish Examiner reported earlier this week that the former EU Affairs Minister is expected to announce his resignation as a TD for Cork North Central soon to take up a new position in the EU.
However, the timing of his departure as a TD comes with four by-elections taking place tomorrow, including in Mr Murphy's own constituency, and ahead of a fresh Dáil motion of confidence against a government member next week.
Mr Varadkar defended the Fine Gael TD: “I think the timing of his resignation is a matter for him, not for me. I haven't discussed that with him. He's been very busy over the past two years, not just as a TD representing his constituency locally. He has been present for key [Dáil] votes. But his main job has been a European job in the past two years and he has done that extremely [well].”
Mr Murphy has been employed with the European People’s Party (EPP) in Brussels since 2017 - in addition to his duties as a TD.
He is expected to resign before Christmas and has already confirmed he would not be standing in the next general election. Mr Murphy has one of the lowest attendance records in Leinster House. Despite this, he receives a full annual €96,000 salary.
It is thought that Mr Murphy has got a new job in the cabinet of the incoming European Commissioner for Innovation, Mariya Gabriel.
But his departure before next year's expected general election is another headache for the Fine Gael-led government, which in recent weeks has been fighting to win an extra seat in Mr Murphy's Cork constituency.