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'Not on' Outgoing TD Eoghan Murphy tells of 'horrific abuse' ex-girlfriend faced in public

He said a conversation must be had around abuse of politicians and their families, as his family and loved ones were also being targeted.

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Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA.

Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA.

Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA.

Former Housing Minister and outgoing TD Eoghan Murphy has said the heckling and abuse he received while in office was part of the job but admitted “that doesn’t mean it didn't bother me".

The Fine Gael Dublin Bay South TD resigned his seat this morning to pursue a career in international affairs.

When asked about the criticism he received while in charge of the housing portfolio, he said:

"It's part of the job. When it comes to politics, criticism is absolutely fair. You've to hold people in public office to account, but when it comes to getting personal abuse; I don't like it, who likes that? I understand it, though, as people are hurting. It is tough.”

He said a conversation must be had around abuse of politicians and their families, as his family and loved ones were also being targeted.

“You develop coping mechanisms. A lot of nights spent running alone in Sandymount Strand after work when you’ve had a bad day.

“That has absolutely nothing to do with the reason I’m leaving, though,” Mr Murphy told Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio.

“A previous girlfriend of mine used to get the most horrific abuse to her face in public, and that’s not on.

“I talked to my colleagues in the Dáil and also to Holly Cairns as she was speaking about the abuse that women were getting in politics. It’s something that needs to be discussed,” Eoghan said.

Mr Murphy said he understood that the job meant making decisions in a crisis that “not everyone would be pleased with” and that criticism would come with that. He admitted his family found it tough when he was receiving abuse.

“They’d get upset, they’d get very protective and get upset, and it’s a sweet thing to see that the people around you care for you.

“When you’re in politics, whether it’s in Fine Gael or Sinn Féin, you’re there for the public service as you believe in the public good and want to drive it in a certain way.

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“Myself and Eoin Ó Broin would always go at it in housing but you’d also see us agreeing on amendments to Bills in the Dáíl if you were a political nerd.

“Politicians need to be able to disagree without them and people around them falling into this tribalism”.

Before working as a councillor, TD and minister, Mr Murphy worked in international arms control.

He said the pandemic had given him the necessary time to reflect on his career in politics and “where could I make my contribution now and next”.

He said this led him to the decision to get back into international politics.

Mr Murphy said the idea to do something else “crystalised in my mind in recent months” and he thought “would it be fair to sit here in Leinster House, taking a very generous salary from the public purse but I’m not 100pc committed to it”.

The former housing minister said he doesn’t have a job lined up but wanted to pursue international affairs as it pertained to his degree.

“I didn’t want to be sitting in my office in Leinster House applying for jobs so now I am free to do that,” Mr Murphy said.

The former Dublin Bay South TD admitted he did not know he wouldn’t be part of the housing ministry any longer before the 2020 General Election and said the party had “very different prospects for our success internally” than what materialised.

Mr Murphy acknowledged the housing brief was a “very challenging” one but said he had “plenty more he wanted to do” before his tenure was ended after the General Election.

Hearing about deaths of homeless people in “very tragic circumstances” was a “very difficult” part of the job, Mr Murphy said.

“Every time you’re told and have that conversation it is very difficult but it renews your motivation to try and do better”.

Eoghan says an encounter with a social care worker who had children presenting to her who didn’t have developed motor neuron skills due to insufficient crawl space in their emergency hotel accommodation highlighted his regret.

“When I met this person as Housing Minister, I thought, ‘not on my watch; I’m going to fix this’ but I didn’t, and I regret that.

“No matter how many homes were built...it wasn’t enough. It’s not impossible [to fix], it just needs more time,” Mr Murphy said.

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