Minister labels Murphy defamation claims "a bit rich"

There are now complaints about six TDs in front of the Dáil disciplinary committee

Minister labels Murphy defamation claims "a bit rich"

File photo, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, 27-09-2017. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

A government minister has insisted claims that the Taoiseach defamed Solidarity TD Paul Murphy in the Dáil are "a bit rich."

The Dáil committee on procedures is now examining complaints about six TDs following on from a row over the Jobstown trial in Leinster House on Wednesday.

The committee has sought legal advice on whether Deputy Murphy abused Dáil privilege in claiming, on the house record, that numerous gardaí had “lied under oath” - adding that they may have engaged in “an agreement to commit perjury.”

This morning, Deputy Murphy made his own complaint to Dáil authorities alleging that the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and four other Fine Gael deputies had defamed him during the same exchange - by linking him to harsh language, violence, water balloons and what Mr Varadkar termed “thuggery” at the Jobstown protest.

Speaking to Newstalk Drive this afternoon, the Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty took a dim view of Deputy Murphy’s complaints:

“I think it is a bit rich,” she said. “I think every word that the Taoiseach said yesterday was absolutely bang on.”

“Paul Murphy is no snowflake and he has a lot of questions to answer for his behaviour and others behaviour at that incident.

“He may disagree with me but I have an opinion and my opinion is that the Taoiseach was bang on yesterday.”

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy

Deputy Murphy has insisted he had nothing to do with anything Mr Varadkar accused him of – and also rejects the abuse of Dáil privilege claim, insisting he is perfectly happy to repeat the perjury claims outside the chamber.

All six complaints are now unlikely to be dealt with until after the summer recess – after it emerged the disciplinary committee is not due to meet next week.

This evening Deputy Murphy insisted that, while not everyone may agree with his politics, there remains a public appetite for a public inquiry into the handling of the Jobstown trial.

“There are people out there who don’t agree with what happened but still know, It doesn’t matter what you thought about Jobstown, it doesn’t really matter what you think about Solidarity TDs, it is a serious matter if gardaí are telling the same wrong story - that is identical to each other - and is contradicted by the other evidence,” he said.

“That is serious.”

Yesterday, the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan announced that the perjury claims would not form part of the force’s ongoing internal review into the trial.

She told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee that the courts are outside of garda control and insisted that as perjury is a criminal offence, Deputy Murphy’s allegations should be referred to the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC).

Deputy Murphy said he has not ruled out going to GSOC in the future – but insisted a public inquiry is still necessary.

“If we were to go to GSOC now we [would be] just letting the government off the hook,” he said.

“Because then the government will say for the next two years, while the GSOC investigation is ongoing, ‘well that is with GSOC, we can’t comment.’”

“We are saying this started with politicians, in terms of all the comments about false imprisonment, it should be ended by politicians by establishing a public inquiry.”

Given the Oireachtas summer recess, it will now likely be September before either the abuse of privilege or defamation claims are examined.