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Leo Varadkar to tell Dail why he disclosed confidential document

The Fine Gael leader will give a statement on his decision to share a document about a GP contract with former NAGP president Dr Maitiu O Tuathail.

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is to give a statement to the Dail about why he shared a confidential document about a GP contract with a third party (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is to give a statement to the Dail about why he shared a confidential document about a GP contract with a third party (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is to give a statement to the Dail about why he shared a confidential document about a GP contract with a third party (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is to tell the Dail why he shared a confidential document about a GP contract with a third party.

In his first public address since the controversy emerged over the weekend, the Fine Gael leader will give a statement on his decision to disclose the document to Dr Maitiu O Tuathail.

Dr O Tuathail, a friend of Mr Varadkar, is a former president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), a rival organisation to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), which was part of the negotiations.

The document contained a draft agreement reached between the Department of Health, the HSE and the IMO in April last year.

Mr Varadkar is due to speak for some 20 minutes before taking questions from opposition parties on Tuesday afternoon.

Fine Gael ministers have rallied to defend their leader over recent days.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday that Mr Varadkar shared the document to help sell the contract to GPs.

However, Labour’s Brendan Howlin disputed that claim, saying the contract should have been widely published to every GP.

Mr Howlin told RTE’s Today With Claire Byrne show that he was “scandalised” by the incident.

He said the position taken by Fine Gael ministers has been “patently unbelievable”.

“The answer was to get GP buy-in to a deal that was almost finalised, but if that was the case, if you wanted the NAGP organisation to be involved, you would call them in and the Minister for Health would present the document to them,” he said.

If he comes clean and explains it in a way we can believe, I think he can get over this humpBrendan Howlin

“There are restrictions to the way GPs can negotiate collectively and there was a framework agreement that allowed the IMO to do that, and that’s why it’s even more sensitive that the (then) Taoiseach broke that by leaking it to the NAGP.

“If you wanted all the GPs, you would have published the document and every GP would have sight of it. But he didn’t do that. He sent it to his friend, who happened to the president of the NAGP, who didn’t circulate it because the NAGP said they had no sight of the document 10 days after their president received it.

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“If the motivation was to NAGP buy-in, that didn’t work because it wasn’t even circulated to them.

“I would like Leo not to give this threadbare excuse, because no-one can believe this, but to explain why he sent it to his friend – maybe he felt a friendship obligation.

“If he comes clean and explains it in a way we can believe, I think he can get over this hump.

“A full and frank open discussion on what happened and why is always the best course of action.”

The Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) has been asked to investigate the circumstances around the incident in a letter from Rise TD Paul Murphy.

He has asked Sipo to examine the details surround the sharing of the document, which first emerged in the Village magazine’s November edition.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he has confidence in the Tanaiste.

Speaking on his way in to the Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle, Mr Ryan said he has not had sight of Mr Varadkar’s statement, but added that his coalition partner “must be clear”.

“This is a real issue but I prefer to let the Tanaiste explain it to the Dail and answer questions from the opposition,” he added.

“I have confidence in the Tanaiste as we have an important job to get the country out of a crisis.”

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