herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Minister defends his garda lift from Cork to Dublin Airport

Minister Dara Murphy
Minister Dara Murphy

European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy has said his decision to take a lift from garda from Co Cork to Dublin Airport in the early hours of the morning was "a marginal call".

He has denied claims that taxis were available to take him to the capital after his car broke down at the side of a motorway outside Fermoy at 3am.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night backed his minister, saying it was "an emergency situation".

"Three o'clock in the morning, travelling to catch a flight to Brussels on business. Obviously, the gardai, as I understand it, offered to help him," Mr Kenny said.

One taxi driver has told the Herald that he made himself available for a fee of €300 to €350 but was immediately told alternative arrangements would be made.

However, Mr Murphy said that while extensive efforts were made to find a taxi that was in the area and able to leave at short notice, none were available.

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

"We had tried for quiet a long time. We didn't refuse any taxis. We were gone," said Mr Murphy.

The Cork TD was on his way to the capital for a 6.40am flight to Brussels for a meeting later on Sunday, September 13.

After his car had broken down outside Mitchelstown, his driver contacted a roadside assistance company but the car could not be fixed in time.

Gardai were then contacted to see if they could offer assistance, and it was suggested that they could take the minister as far as Portlaoise.

However, the two on-duty gardai then offered to take Mr Murphy and his wife all the way to the airport.

"The gardai made a call that they had the resources. I made a judgment that I was attending to government business at an important meeting and took their help," Mr Murphy told the Herald.

Criticised

"Many people have been helped by the guards at times.

"It might have been a marginal call, but it was three o'clock in the morning."

Mr Murphy was previously criticised after the Herald revealed he used the government jet to fly home from a meeting in Latvia to vote in the Marriage Equality Referendum.

The flight cost taxpayers around €30,000.

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