Who can blame Dara Murphy? Being a TD is a terrible job

Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy has resigned his seat in the Dáil in order to take up a new, much better paid job, with the incoming European Commission. It’s hard to blame anyone for exchanging a seat in the Dáil for a seat in Brussels – the latter is a much better job. You won’t have constituents ringing you at all hours, your diary won’t be full of engagements, you won’t be expected at every funeral, or to buy tickets for every GAA dinner dance, or be seen out and about every weekend.

The truth is, and it is, of course, hugely unpopular to admit it, that being a TD is a terrible job unless you are the kind of person who genuinely enjoys never having a minute to yourself, and actively doesn’t mind having at least some of your neighbours despise you and working for you to lose your job. Yes, it’s well paid, but you could probably live a much more relaxed and comfortable life on half the salary.

So when a chance comes to trade in the Dáil seat for a nice office job in a much nicer city, like Brussels, and to make more money (not to mention improving your employment prospects after your term is up) you would have to be either mad, or power hungry, to turn it down. Dara Murphy has done an entirely rational thing:

“Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy has resigned his seat as TD for Cork North Central to take up a new role in the European Commission.

The move was announced in the Dáil this morning by Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher.

In a statement, Mr Murphy said: “Last night, on Tuesday the 3rd of December, I met with the Acting Ceann Comhairle and gave him a letter informing him of my decision to resign my seat in Dáil Éireann.

“I also met the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night and spoke to him about my decision. I will commence a new position in the European Commission today.”

That position is widely believed to be deputy head of staff for Bulgarian European Commissioner for Innovation Mariya Gabriel.

Mr Murphy has come under scrutiny in recent weeks following criticism over his Dáil attendance and the expenses he has claimed.”

The “scandal” here is an entirely fake one, designed to appeal to your worst instincts as a voter. “That hoor”, you’re supposed to think, “up there claiming the money and doing nothing”.

But ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why is this only a “scandal” now, when Murphy has been working in Brussels (as a representative of the Fine Gael party) for years?
  • Do we have an opposition so clueless that they have only noticed this…. now?
  • What laws do they propose to introduce to make sure it never happens again?

There is no obligation, believe it or not, for a TD to actually attend Dáil Eireann. And what’s more, there won’t be. Imagine the difficulties that would cause Sinn Fein, for example, who have seven elected members of the UK parliament who have never sat in it for a single day.

What’s more, you can bet your bottom dollar that there are plenty of TDs who are eyeing Murphy’s career path with much more envy than anger. Shutting the stable door after the Deputy for Cork North Central has bolted will only accomplish one thing: Keeping the rest of them locked in place.

The only purpose of the “scandal” is to make life a bit uncomfortable for the Taoiseach, and to fool you, the voter, into thinking that Dara Murphy is some kind of egregious example of political greed, whereas the rest of them are hard-working, diligent, public servants. That’s a load of nonsense.

They’ve all known about it, and tolerated it, for years. Given the chance, almost any of the rest of them would do the same.

It’s not as if Murphy is the first TD to flee for an easier life in Brussels, either, it’s just that he’s taken an unconventional path to do so. After all, we’ve just had bye-elections to replace four TDs who’ve traded in the nice leather chairs in the Dáil for the nice felt chairs in Brussels and Strasbourg.

What difference does one more make?

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