Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

14.28 5 Nov 2020


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The Tánaiste has come under fire again for leaking a confidential agreement on GP contracts with his friend.

Leo Varadkar has been under continued pressure for sharing the IMO document with a rival union.

He admitted sending a copy of a deal to the then-president of the NAGP, Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail, but said that the way he communicated the contract "was not best practice".

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He has since apologised for his "errors of judgment" but said there was “nothing inappropriate” about his informal contact with the NAGP.

Dr Ó' Tuathail has since been formally asked by Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín to appear before the Oireachtas health committee to answer questions about the documents leaked to him.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Mr Varadkar said he accepts sole responsibility for sharing the document as he faced questions by Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty.

Mr Doherty said: "It was widely reported last night that you told a meeting of your parliamentary party that they should be careful of the friends that they choose.

“That doesn’t sound to me like words of someone who is sorry for their actions Tánaiste.

“That sounds to me like words of someone who is annoyed that they got caught.

“Instead of accepting responsibility for your actions you just threw Maitiú Ó Tuathail under the bus and then you reversed over him.

"I want to put on the record here, Maitiú Ó Tuathail isn't to blame, he was absolutely within his right as the President of the NAGP to seek out this document."

Mr Varadkar responded: "In my statement on Tuesday, I very clearly and very definitely accepted sole responsibility for this and I used to term sole responsibility so I haven't sought to blame anyone else."

He also defended deleting text messages from when he leaked the confidential agreement when questioned by Mr Doherty as to why he didn’t keep text messages from that time.

The Tánaiste said: "I don't as standard keep all my text messages, I don't think most people in this house do.

"Anything that I consider to be a public record, for example, if somebody sent an email to my personal account which happens from time to time,  I forward it to my official account which is in line with the Department of the Taoiseach's policy on emails.'"

'A disgrace'

Yesterday, the Taoiseach was been branded a "disgrace" by a member of his own party over his handling of the controversy.

At a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting last night, Micheál Martin was told there is "palpable anger" among members seeing him out as the "chief flag flyer" for the Tánaiste.

In a scathing attack, Marc MacSharry said he was "beyond disgusted" at the Taoiseach's defence of Leo Varadkar, who he described as "the sacred cow".

The Sligo/Leitrim TD said there wasn't "a six-year-old in the country" who couldn't see through the Tánaiste's "fairy tale account'" for leaking the confidential IMO contract to the NAGP.

He said there was "palpable anger" throughout the country from members to see the Taoiseach out as his "chief flag flyer".

He criticised Mr Martin for throwing Barry Cowen and Darragh Calleary "under the bus" and claimed the Taoiseach's "obsession" with Sinn Féin and the Troubles handed them hundreds of thousands of votes they were never getting back.

Mr MacSharry then accused his leader of being the cause of the party's poor polling rating.

Former Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen also voiced his frustration at the Taoiseach for not getting treated in the same way as the Tánaiste.

Additional reporting by Adrian Harmon

Main image: Leo Varadkar leaving Dublin Castle after attending a Cabinet meeting. Credit: Press Association

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Fianna Fáil Fine Gael IMO Leo Varadkar Micheál Martin NAGP Pearse Doherty Sinn Fein Tanaiste Taoiseach

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