Lucinda Creighton: Dara Murphy's 200km garda airport lift 'was not appropriate'
LABOUR and Renua have slated a Fine Gael minister's decision to use a Garda transfer to Dublin Airport as an inappropriate use of resources.
However, Labour critically eased pressure on embattled European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy by admitting the situation he faced while stranded at 3am on the Cork-Dublin motorway after his car broke down earlier this month was "highly unusual."
The move came as the TD was last night nominated by Fine Gael to defend his Dail berth in Cork North Central in the upcoming general election.
Labour welcomed his apology and flatly dismissed any suggestion Mr Murphy should consider his position over the incident.
Both Tanaiste Joan Burton and Environment Minister Alan Kelly said Mr Murphy's decision to take a lift from gardai to Dublin Airport was not appropriate.
"It is not the best use of police resources, particularly where people in rural areas are certainly nervous about the issue of criminal gangs riding around the countryside looking for where they can carry out opportunistic robberies," the Tanaiste said.
Both acknowledged that the situation which faced him was unusual and that allowances should be made for the time, the location and the fact he was on Government business.
But Mr Kelly bluntly said that, faced with the same situation, he would not have made the decision to accept a garda transfer of over 200km to Dublin Airport.
Renua leader Lucinda Creighton, who previously served as European Affairs Minister, said she believes there are "significant holes" in the Government's explanation.
"I don't think it tallies with the account given by the taxi driver on yesterday's news," she added.
"Certainly, taxi-ing a minister to the airport in the early hours of a Sunday morning is not an appropriate use of garda time or resources.
"I think it is completely inappropriate and I think the minister has a lot to account for," she added.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny backed his minister.
Justice Minister Michael Noonan said the Cork TD's explanation was "quite reasonable" given the circumstances.
A small protest was mounted outside Mr Murphy's Cork constituency office.
Mr Murphy has steadfastly refused to accept he made a mistake but apologised to anyone who felt his decision to accept the garda lift was inappropriate.
"I fully understand why people who are aware of the limited garda resources will say that it was inappropriate," Mr Murphy said.