CORK North Central Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy said that he is still working hard for Cork and Ireland after figures revealed that he spoke in the Dáil just nine times in the last 12 months.
The average for all Cork TDs was 87 Dáil speeches.
According to figures on the number of speeches given by Dáil members, Mr Murphy had the second lowest out of all TDs, and the lowest out of Cork TDs.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin made the highest amount of speeches for Cork TDs in the last year at 217, followed by Solidarity TD Mick Barry at 147. Michael McGrath (126) and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (128) are both among the most frequent speakers, too.
The average for all Cork TDs was 87.
Cork North-Central TD Billy Kelleher speaks more than average, making 100 speeches, with Jonathan O'Brien (SF) registering 71 speeches.
Backbench TDs Michael Moynihan (64) and Aindrias Moynihan (69) have both spoken more than Mr Murphy, while Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed (31) is second lowest out of the Cork representatives, though his position means he is often not present for Dáil debates.
Similarly, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who has spoken 67 times, is often absent during debates.
Mr Murphy, who was dropped from his position as Minister of State for Europe by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last year, said that the number of speeches he gave did not reflect the work he has been doing.
During the first half of last year, he spent much of his time outside of Ireland due to negotiations on Brexit. He said that any Dáil reports on this work would have been delivered by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who he reported to as a Junior Minister.
Since his demotion, he said that he has less access to speaking time and has other duties in Europe that keep out of the Dail.
“I’m the only government backbencher in Cork now. Cork has four ministers. Government backbenchers get by far the most reduced amount of speaking time,” he said.
He is the director of elections for the European People’s Party (EPP) in advance of the European elections next year.
“I’m a vice president of the EPP. I’m director of elections, which is very important. I think it’s important that we have Irish people doing these jobs,” he said, adding that Ireland would be served well if the EPP, which Fine Gael is a member of, did well across Europe.
He said that the role did not affect his work as a TD, as he was both EPP vice president and Minister for Europe before the last election and his constituents still elected him.
He also refuted reports that he was not attending events in his constituency but said that Ministers are more visible than him due to the invites they get.
Mr Murphy declined to address rumours that he may not run at the next election, saying that it is “political mudslinging” and said that his office is open and he is holding clinics and carrying out constituency work.