TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney has said the controversy over Dara Murphy’s Dáil attendance didn’t affect the Fine Gael campaign in the lead-up to the Cork North Central by-election.
Reports emerged last week that Deputy Murphy, described as an ‘absentee TD’, was to resign to take up a new role with the European Commission.
It has also been reported that Deputy Murphy had been marked as attending the Dáil on days he was also tweeting from meetings in Europe.
The Irish Times compared the log of his attendance in Leinster House with the datelines on his Twitter feed and there were at least 10 days in the past two years where he had logged in before departing for, or after arriving from, another EU state.
In a defiant statement released by Mr Murphy on Saturday night, he claimed: “At all times I have been compliant with the rules for attendance at Leinster House.
“I will continue to provide any evidence required to the appropriate authorities. I attended the required 120 days at Leinster House in 2018 and should achieve the requisite number for 2019,” the statement continued.
The statement, however, did not confirm whether Deputy Murphy would be stepping down as TD.
Speaking at the Cork North Central by-election count Tánaiste Simon Coveney was asked about the impact the timing of this had on Fine Gael.
“I think that story hasn’t had as big an impact as maybe some people are suggesting on this result,” he said.
“I haven’t spoken to Dara so I don’t want to make too much public comment until I get a chance to do that but the Dara Murphy debate has really only been one that’s happened for the last three or four days of this campaign.
“If you look at the Fine Gael result, Colm on his own has got significantly more in percentage terms than two Fine Gael candidates in the last General Election. It can’t have been that damaging from a Fine Gael perspective,” he added.
Asked whether Dara Murphy should be claiming expenses when he spends more time in Europe than in Dáil Éireann, the Tánaiste said: “That’s a matter for Dara. I haven’t looked at the detail of that to be honest. My focus has been on Colm and not Dara Murphy in the last couple of days. I’m sure those questions will be answered in time, but I’m not best placed to answer them now.”