Sunday 23 October 2016

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

Dara Murphy and his wife Tanya when he was Lord Mayor of Cork.
Dara Murphy and his wife Tanya when he was Lord Mayor of Cork.

A JUNIOR minister has defended his use of a garda escort from Cork to Dublin Airport, saying the officers were having a quiet night and he had no other option.

European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy is under pressure to pay for the cost of having two gardai drive him and his wife from Fermoy in Co Cork to the capital.

He sought help after his car broke down on the side of a motorway outside Mitchelstown in at 3am on Sunday, September 13.

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

The Cork TD was on his way to the capital for a 6.40am flight to Brussels for a meeting later that day.

Mr Murphy told the independent.ie he only called gardaí after contacting the AA and failing to get a taxi.

He said it was evident that his own car was not going to be fixed at the side of the road and he and his wife would need alternative transport.

“I spoke to the sergeant and he sent out a car and the gardaí offered to take us to Portlaoise at which stage we could continue our journey,” he said.

“So I established with him that there was cover available to the gardaí, it was a quiet night and he had other available gardaí and cars.

“We discussed the fact that if that were to change, their assistance to me would be terminated, and I said fine.

“As we continued north, there was a phone conversation between the passenger guard and the base and then the offer was made to continue to take us to Dublin. I accepted the offer,” he added.

Mr Murphy insisted there was no overtime payment to the gardai involved and there was no additional cost to the taxpayer.

Lord Mayor of Cork Chris O’Leary (SF) described the use of garda resources as “absolutely outrageous behaviour in today’s climate”.

He called on the Cork TD to pay back the cost of the 214km journey.

However, Mr Murphy rejected the criticism saying the Lord Mayor should act in a “non political” manner while in his post.

The Herald previously revealed how Mr Murphy used the State jet to fly home  from Latvia so he could vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum.

The flight cost in the region of €30,000.


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