The Tánaiste has apologised for his ‘errors of judgment’ in leaking a confidential agreement made with one group of doctors with the head of another.
Leo Varadkar is currently answering questions in the Dáil on his decision to send a copy of a deal agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to the then-president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.
He insisted that he had not handed the NAGP any unfair commercial advantage and said he was working to get as much support for the deal among doctors as possible.
He said there was “nothing inappropriate” about his informal contact with the NAGP but admitted it was an error of judgement to share the document without telling any of his Government colleagues.
“I do accept that the provision of the agreement by informal communicational channel to the president of the NAGP in the way that I did was not good practice,” he said.
“I regret that I did not ensure it was provided in a more appropriate, formal manner.
“It was an error and one I accept sole responsibility for. I know it has caused people to question my judgement but I hope, having heard my explanation, no fair-minded person will question my motivation or integrity.”
He said he regrets his actions and is sorry for the “controversy and the annoyance that my actions have caused, including to members of the medical profession, members of the IMO, my colleagues in Government and to the House.”
Minister Varadkar insisted that he has “never been motivated by a desire for selfish financial gain or motivation, corrupt.”
“I knew the new GP contract would make a difference and help some of the most vulnerable in our society who needed it the most,” he said.
“I made an error of judgement in trying to achieve that result, motivated by the best reasons, but there was nothing selfish or dishonest, let alone corrupt or illegal in what I did.”
He said there “no negative impact” arising from his decision to share the contract.
“The deal was done, it was well received and it was accepted almost universally by GPs,” he said.
“It is now a reality and is being implemented, providing better and more accessible care to more patients in the community – and that is what really matters.”