Legal advice sought on claims Paul Murphy abused Dáil privilege

Deputy Murphy used Dáil privilege to accuse Gardaí of "co-ordinated perjury"

Legal advice sought on claims Paul Murphy abused Dáil privilege

Image: Oireachtas TV

The Dáil disciplinary committee is to seek legal advice on whether Solidarity TD Paul Murphy abused parliamentary privilege today.

It comes after a fresh war of words broke out in the Dáil over the Jobstown trial this afternoon.

Speaking under privilege in the Dáil, Deputy Murphy accused Gardaí of "co-ordinated perjury" during the course of the trial.

The matter was considered by the Dáil committee on procedures tonight, which is to seek legal advice on the issue.

Late last month, Deputy Murphy and five others were found not guilty of falsely imprisoning the former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell at a water charge protest in 2014.

This afternoon, the Solidarity TD again challenged the Taoiseach to launch a public inquiry into the handling of the trial.

Under Dáil privilege, Deputy Murphy said he believes that "numerous gardaí lied under oath," claiming that could imply "an agreement to commit perjury".

It led to immediate concerns from a number of other TDs that Deputy Murphy may have abused Dáil privilege in his remarks.

Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin called for an examination of the claims, saying the assertions marked "a precedent that in my view opens up all sorts of new horizons that we need to be very careful about in the House". 

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the matter would be “examined today”.

"You are not a victim"

Leo Varadkar insists the trial was fair - and instead challenged Paul Murphy to apologise to Joan Burton instead.

The Taoiseach said: "You are not a victim here. You are not a victim of any conspiracy. You had a fair trial and you were acquitted. But that doesn't mean that your behaviour was right.

"It may well be the case that you weren't engaged in kidnapping - but it was thuggery, and your behaviour was wrong."

He also described the Jobstown protest as 'ugly, violent, and nasty'.

"What you should do now in this house is offer a public apology to Deputy Burton and Ms O'Connell," Mr Varadkar added.

Earlier, Joan Burton said she had no wish to comment on the incident, other than to complement the gardaí for ensuring public safety.

Gardaí have begun an internal review into their handling of the Jobstown case - but Deputy Murphy has argued that the force should not be investigating themselves.

Speaking on Newstalk Drive this evening, Deputy Murphy referenced Leo Varadkar's comments on RTÉ Prime Time last week.

Leo Varadkar observed: "We need to be able to trust that when the gardaí stand up in court and they say something happened that it did happen - and it shouldn't conflict with video evidence and if it does then that is a problem."

Deputy Murphy noted: "[The Taoiseach] went on to say, 'we'll get Noirín O'Sullivan and Garda management to look into it'. That's the point I was trying to get him to answer - there's a logical problem there.

"The only way to get to the bottom of this [...] is for an independent public inquiry."