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Leak row Confidence motion needed to call out "obnoxious" politics, claims Sinn Fein leader

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said her party is calling out what she branded as “obnoxious” politics as she defended tabling a motion of no confidence in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil.

Government figures have accused of Sinn Féin of “political theatrics” as the country faces issues like the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit due to the Dáil motion to be debated in the coming days.

It was tabled amid the controversy over Mr Varadkar’s decision to leak an unpublished GP contract to his friend Maitiú Ó Tuathail.

The then-Taoiseach shared an unpublished copy of a GP contract agreed by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to Mr Ó Tuathail who was president of a rival doctors union the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) at the time.

Sinn Féin said they tabled the motion “due to the seriousness of this situation” and because Mr Varadkar has “faced no sanction nor has he given a credible account for his actions”.

Ms McDonald told RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme that a motion of no confidence is the only option available to the Opposition as Taoiseach Micheál Martin has “taken no action” against Mr Varadkar.

She denied that a successful motion against the Fine Gael leader would mean that the Coalition would collapse saying: “that would be a matter for the government.”

She argued that the matter is “bread and butter” issue for the public. She claimed it showed that what she claimed was “the politics of the nod and wink, the insiders, the cosy clubs, the old boys network” has a cost that’s “borne by the Irish people.”

She added: “This kind of claustrophobic entitled, obnoxious frankly politics is exactly the kind of politics that has left us in difficulties and have left people with a substandard health service… and in circumstances where they can't be guaranteed to have a stable roof over their head and that is the reason… why we are calling this out.”

Ms McDonald was asked if Sinn Féin’s motion is proportionate and responded claiming that Mr Varadkar gave the Dáil an “implausible" version of events.

Mr Varadkar has insisted that the GP contract was essentially completed at the time he leaked it to Mr Ó Tuathail and that his motivation in sharing it was to encourage NAGP members to sign up to the deal.

Finance Minster Pascal Donohoe said that Mr Varadkar has admitted that his actions were a “lapse in his standards” but argued that the accountability Sinn Féin are seeking happened when the Tánaiste faced questions in the Dáil last week.

He said Mr Varadkar had been motivated by trying to get an agreement passed “to deliver better support for patients and better support for general practitioners.”

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He responded to claims made by Ms McDonald saying: “I heard allegations in relation to so called obnoxious politics, the politics of the insider, the politics of the nod and wink.

“Just allow me to be very clear… in response to a charge like that, that the people that I and this Government represents are ordinary people... who, for example, wanted to see improvements in their medical care, want to see improvements in the services that GPs can give, which hadn't been delivered.

“A negotiation that hadn't been concluded for years. And that was the context behind what the Tánaiste did.”

He was asked about claims by Fianna Fáil TD that Mr Varadkar’s account of event were “fairy tale” and whether he expects Mr MacSharry to support the Tánaiste in the Dáil vote this week.

Mr Donohoe said: “it's a matter for all TDs to decide how they wish to vote.”

He said TDs should vote on what is the right thing for the country and he hoped they would consider the importance of having a Government “with Brexit pending in the middle of a pandemic” as well as Mr Varadkar’s track record.

Earlier Fianna Fáil junior minister Robert Troy accused Sinn Féin of “political theatrics” in putting down a motion of no confidence knowing well it would be defeated.

He said they made the move “at a time when we… have to tackle Covid, we have Brexit seven weeks away.

“We have so many other issues that I think would be better served for debate in the Dáil this week.”


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