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Sinn Fein tables no-confidence motion in Leo Varadkar over leaked IMO contract

The Tanaiste will face a second Dail grilling on Tuesday but retains the backing of his coalition partners.

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Leo Varadkar with Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton as they leave Dublin Castle after attending a Cabinet meeting. The Tanaiste has been accused of leaking documents relating to an agreement reached between the Department of Health, the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to rival organisation the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

Leo Varadkar with Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton as they leave Dublin Castle after attending a Cabinet meeting. The Tanaiste has been accused of leaking documents relating to an agreement reached between the Department of Health, the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to rival organisation the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

Leo Varadkar with Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton as they leave Dublin Castle after attending a Cabinet meeting. The Tanaiste has been accused of leaking documents relating to an agreement reached between the Department of Health, the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to rival organisation the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

Sinn Fein has tabled a motion of no-confidence in Tanaiste Leo Varadkar over the controversial leak of a confidential GP contract to his friend.

The Fine Gael leader has come under fire this week for passing documents regarding a GP pay deal with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to the NAGP, a rival organisation.

The motion is to be debated in the Dail on Tuesday, and will drag the controversy out for another week.

Mr Varadkar has admitted leaking the pay deal to his friend and NAGP President Dr Maitiu O Tuathail.

Although the Tanaiste said his actions were “not best practice” he insisted he had nothing personally to gain from the leak and said he did so in order secure backing for the deal from all GPs.

Mr Varadkar has been backed on the issue by his coalition partners in Fianna Fail and the Green Party following a Dail statement earlier this week.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said the motion was tabled because she believes the Tanaiste has failed to properly account for his actions.

She said: “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

“We’re doing this because when he was taoiseach he leaked a confidential document to his friend.

“And he has given no real explanation for why he has done that.

“Of course he can’t give a real explanation for it because he shouldn’t have done that, it was wrong.

“So we know that for politics for change, all of this old politics of the old boys’ network, the nudge and the wink and who you know, giving preferential access to people and leaving other people out, all of that has to stop.

“We are determined that it will stop.”

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Ms McDonald said Taoiseach Michael Martin has “stood back” on the controversy.

She added: “He’s taken no action. I’m not going to stand idly by.

“We won’t stand back and allow that old politics that favours the few and leaves out the many will continue.”

I have said it was the wrong thing to do, it was not best practice, the Tanaiste has acknowledged thatTaoiseach Michael Martin

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar accused Sinn Fein of “political mudslinging”.

He said: “The Tanaiste dealt with all the issues in the Dail this week.

“This motion clearly shows that Sinn Fein isn’t interested in what actually happened.

“They’re only interested in political mudslinging, attacking the Irish government at a time of national crisis and diverting attention from the unanswered questions about their receipt of public money in the North.”

In an interview with Sky News on Friday, Mr Martin addressed the controversy, but not the motion of no-confidence tabled by Sinn Fein.

He said Mr Varadkar had provided the contract to the NAGP “with a view to getting the GP’s support for that agreement”.

He added: “It was subsequently signed on by most, if not all GPs in the country

“He had since apologised for an error of judgment.

“I have said it was the wrong thing to do, it was not best practice, the Tanaiste has acknowledged that.

“I think there was a very comprehensive presentation to the Dail about that.”

Deputy Green Party leader and Culture Minister Catherine Martin also gave her backing to the Tanaiste on Friday.

She said she had always had a “very good working relationship” with Mr Varadkar.

“I personally have confidence in working with the Tanaiste,” she said.

“I’ve worked well with him up to date and will continue to work with him.”

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Taoiseach Michael Martin has backed his under-fire coalition partner, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Damien Eagers/PA).

Taoiseach Michael Martin has backed his under-fire coalition partner, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Damien Eagers/PA).

Taoiseach Michael Martin has backed his under-fire coalition partner, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Damien Eagers/PA).

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, a close ally and party colleague of Mr Varadkar, has also voiced his support.

He said they worked together in negotiating public pay deals and the management of public pay for three years while Mr Varadkar was taoiseach and said he had always “conducted himself to the highest of standards”.

“We dealt with many, many, many sensitive and demanding issues in relation to public pay and he always conducted himself to the highest of standards,” Mr Donohoe said.

The Dublin Central TD made the comments on Friday morning prior to Sinn Fein’s announcement that it will table a motion of no-confidence in the Tanaiste next week.

Mr Donohoe added that the Tanaiste was always aware of the “sensitivities of the matters and the need for care”.

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