The Leas-Cheann Comhairle announced this morning the resignation of former Deputy Dara Murphy from Dáil Éireann, effective from 10.45 p.m. last evening, almost immediately after the vote of confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. The reality is that Dara Murphy should have resigned at the end of 2017 because since he took up office with the Fine Gael grouping in Europe, the European People's Party, EPP, his parliamentary input has been reduced to near zero, to quote Harry McGee of The Irish Times. Since then, he effectively became an absentee Teachta Dála while still drawing a full salary.
Our role as Teachtaí Dála is essentially twofold; it is representational and legislative. We represent individuals, residents, communities, cities and counties on a range of issues and seek to resolve grievances and concerns through Parliament. We also make laws and engage in public debate which helps to influence and shape such laws.
Since the end of 2017, Dara Murphy did not discharge either of these functions. He has not spoken in the Dáil since 7 December 2017. I understand he only attended the Committee on Public Petitions once during 2018 and 2019. He asked a total of five parliamentary questions in 2019 and only two in 2018. 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.
The people of the northside of Cork elected him to represent them. For the past two years he did not do that. The people of the northside of Cork were neglected by him, and that was endorsed by the Taoiseach and the Fine Gael Party. The Taoiseach defended this behaviour, saying late last week that, "His main job has been a European job in the past two years, and he's done that extremely well". His job was with the Fine Gael Party in Europe. It had nothing to do with the Dáil or the European Parliament. Does the Taoiseach understand that basic point? Does he accept that former Deputy Dara Murphy's behaviour has fundamentally breached the code of conduct for Members in that he betrayed the trust placed in him by the people of the northside of Cork and has failed to obtain public confidence and trust in his role as a Teachta Dála and Dáil Éireann as an institution?
People are angry about this. People everywhere are talking about it. The Taoiseach sanctioned and okayed this and put party interest before the public interest. Working with Fine Gael and the EPP had nothing to do with Dáil Éireann and Dara Murphy's responsibility as a Deputy. Does the Taoiseach accept that he and the Fine Gael Party were wrong to sanction this arrangement and that he should apologise to the people of the northside of Cork, in particular, for the neglect of the past two years? Does he accept the basic point that former Deputy Dara Murphy's behaviour over the past two years was not morally sustainable? Can he outline the nature of his discussion with Dara Murphy in May 2018 when he announced that he would not contest the next general election?