Irish Examiner revealed his intention to resign his Dáil seat to take up a plum €150,000 job in Europe, Dara Murphy did the needful.

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Daniel McConnell: ‘Absentee TD’ avoids inquiry and can expect another €500,000 in payments

After the Irish Examiner revealed his intention to resign his Dáil seat to take up a plum €150,000 job in Europe, Dara Murphy did the needful.

Daniel McConnell: ‘Absentee TD’ avoids inquiry and can expect another €500,000 in payments

It only took a week.

After the Irish Examiner revealed his intention to resign his Dáil seat to take up a plum €150,000 job in Europe, Dara Murphy did the needful.

This was despite official Fine Gael denials of our original story the night our story broke.

But it was the manner of his departure which has raised a few eyebrows.

For days, Murphy has had to endure the attention of media reports about his low attendance and his “absentee” Dáil status, as described by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, while working for Fine Gael’s European group, the European People’s Party (EPP).

That he was claiming expenses while barely participating in any Dáil business is the alleged offence.

Martin accused Murphy of “neglecting” his constituents, saying that should have resigned in 2017.

As well as retaining his Dáil seat, Mr Murphy had been working as an election campaign manager for the European People’s Party (EPP).

“The reality is that Dara Murphy should have resigned at the end of 2017 because since he took up office with Fine Gael grouping in Europe, the European People’s Party, EPP, his parliamentary input has been reduced to near zero,” said Mr Martin.

The Dáil heard that Murphy had not spoken in the Chamber since December 7, 2017. He asked a total of five parliamentary questions in 2019, two in 2018, and only attended the Committee on Public Petitions once during the same period.

Martin said: “I invite people to compare that record to that of his three colleagues in Cork North-Central.

That behaviour reflects total disengagement from the Dáil.

While Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and finance minister Paschal Donohoe have agreed that the system of expenses — which allowed Murphy claim more than €51,000 a year — is “far too lax”, they did nothing about it until they had to.

The Taoiseach, more to the point, sanctioned Murphy’s absence, possibly as a sop given he sacked him as junior European affairs minister in 2017.

While Varadkar claimed Murphy would submit himself to any inquiry or investigation deemed necessary, it quickly emerged that no such investigation can be carried out, because Murphy is no longer a member of the Dáil.

As my colleague Elaine Loughlin uncovered today, although Varadkar said that the now-departed Murphy would co-operate with the Oireachtas Ethics Committee or the Standards In Public Office Commission if requested, neither body is now permitted to investigate him as he is no longer a sitting member of the Dáil.

But Murphy will not be leaving the Dáil empty-handed.

As we are reporting today, with his eight years’ service, he is entitled to a termination lump sum of two months’ salary equal to €16,031 and termination payments for six months at 75% of salary, equal to €36,070.

So, upfront, that is €52,101 into his hand.

In addition, he is entitled to an Oireachtas pension, based on 8/40ths of his salary.

He will get a pension lump sum, payable at 65 (as he started in 2011), amounting to €57,713 (three times the value of his annual pension) plus an annual pension payment of €19,237.

Given pension calculations are based on a lifespan of 20 years, that equates to about €400,000.

So, that is about €500,000, subject to pension levies and tax, before his ministerial pension is taken into account, relating to his three years as European Affairs minister.

Perfectly legal and fully what he is entitled to under the rules.

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