Dara Murphy should only pay back his TD expenses if it is found he broke Dáil rules, the Taoiseach has said.
Leo Varadkar has continued to defend the former Fine Gael politician who has come under fire for claiming full Oireachtas entitlements while working as director of elections for the European People's Party (EPP) and has been accused of being an “absentee” TD.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, it was suggested that Mr Varakdar could have asked Mr Murphy to resign when he took up the Brussels-based position, to which the Taoiseach responded: "I certainly could have but I didn't.''
Mr Varadkar said it was not in his power to stop the former Cork TD from taking up the EPP post but said he continued to carry out his constituency work during that time.
"I did know he was taking that position as an EPP campaign director and there was no secret about that I issued a press statement at the time.
"But he did this on the understanding that it would be temporary position that would end and it did end, more than six months ago, and that he would continue to fulfill his duties as constituency TD, and as a member of the Dáil as well.
Mr Varadkar added:
"The record shows that he kept his constituency office open, that he was in the Dáil for 120 days a year, attended votes, but people are disputing that and that's why I think there should be an investigation."
Mr Varadkar previously suggested that the Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan should investigate Mr Murphy's expense claims and Dáil attendances. However, Mr Finnegan has no jurisdiction in the matter.
The Taoiseach said he "can't prescribe" which competent authority carry out the probe but he said: "I think there should be an investigation.''
He added that Mr Murphy should "absolutely" pay back the amount he claimed if the Investigation finds he broke the rules.