herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

'I made no mistake in accepting Garda lift to airport', says minister Dara Murphy

Dara Murphy
Dara Murphy

JUNIOR Minister Dara Murphy has apologised to anyone who felt his use of a garda car to travel to an airport was inappropriate.

However, the embattled Fine Gael politician refused to concede he made a mistake in accepting the lift in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Murphy has been in the spotlight since it emerged that on-duty gardai drove him and his wife over 200km from Cork to Dublin Airport so that he could make a meeting in Brussels last month.

Speaking on RTE radio yesterday, the minister said he was presented with a difficult situation after being left stranded on the side of a motorway because his car broke down.

READ MORE: Minister defends his garda lift from Cork to Dublin Airport

"I think it was a very difficult situation I was presented with, and I fully understand why people, who are aware of the limited garda resources, will and do say it was inappropriate."

He said his driver had to remain with the car on the side of the road for the AA to come.

Mr Murphy said that internet coverage was limited, so he wasn't able to do a lot of research into other flights while waiting.

READ MORE: Minister defends garda escort to airport: 'Officers were having a quiet night'

"I did try to, the first thing I did was try to phone taxis so that we would make the flight. Then we had no Google or limited satellite coverage, so when we did get onto the Ryanair website and flight scanner website there were no flights available.

"I did try to get alternative transport, I did try to change to a later flight."

It has since emerged there would have been no other flights available that day that could have accommodated the Minster.

Account

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said he believed the minister should have given a more complete account of the events at an earlier stage.

"There was meant to be a new era in politics, there was no meeting the following day to get to. It seems to me that there were alternatives available. He should apologise," Mr Martin said.

READ MORE: Gardai drive minister and wife 200km to airport after his chauffeured car breaks down

Meanwhile, Mr Murphy also responded to reports in a newspaper which said the meeting he was flying to in Brussels had been cancelled.

He said he only learned of the cancellation after arriving in Brussels.

But he accepted there could have been other ways to get to Brussels - such as via London later in the day.

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