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under-fire Taoiseach says Varadkar sharing GP document with NAGP was 'inappropriate' but does not believe 'any law was broken'

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin outside Government Buildings in Dublin this morning on his way to a press conference where he is likely to be asked about accusations that the Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar, leaked confidential governement documents (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin outside Government Buildings in Dublin this morning on his way to a press conference where he is likely to be asked about accusations that the Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar, leaked confidential governement documents (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin outside Government Buildings in Dublin this morning on his way to a press conference where he is likely to be asked about accusations that the Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar, leaked confidential governement documents (Niall Carson/PA)

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said the way Tánaiste Leo Varadkar shared a copy of the pay deal with the IMO to a rival GPs' organisation was "inappropriate" but that he doesn't believe any laws have been broken.

Mr Martin said he has confidence in the under-fire Fine Gael leader and also said he believed that documents of the kind shared by Mr Varadkar should be published sooner.

The Taoiseach would not say if Mr Varadakar should make an apology for the incident and also confirmed that he did not ask the Tánaiste if he has ever shared other documents in this way on other occasions.

Mr Varadkar has been at the centre of controversy after it emerged he had given a copy of the deal - marked confidential - to his friend Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail who was President of the National Association of General Practitioners.

The Tánaiste had admitted that the way he did this was not best practice but defended his actions as part of efforts to ensure GPs accepted the new deal.

He is to make a statement to the Dáil on the matter tomorrow.

Mr Martin was asked if he is satisfied with Mr Varadkar's explanation for sharing the GP deal with Mr Ó Tuathail.

He said: "This was not best practice and the Tánaiste himself has accepted that.

"This was not the appropriate way to deal with a document of this kind, in terms of the manner in which it was sent to the president of the NAGP."

However, Mr Martin said such deals were not commercial contracts on particular projects but rather relates to the general health service.

"In my view, it should have been made public much earlier and in hindsight, that's the lessons we learned from this that these type of agreements."

He added: "There was no financial gain for anyone in terms of sending of this document to the head of the NAGP that has to be said.

"There was no material advantage to any person. It was not best practice. It was not appropriate to do it in that way."

Mr Martin said he has confidence in Mr Varadkar in his role as Tanaiste adding: "I don't have an issue there in terms of how we're working together."

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Asked if Mr Varadkar should apologise for sharing the document with his friend from the NAGP, Mr Martin said "I'm not going to pre-empt tomorrow's address to the Dail by the Tánaiste".

On whether or not he had asked Mr Varadkar if he had shared other documents in in a similar way before Mr Martin replied said he did not "engage in any sort of cross-examination of the kind that you've suggested."

He said that if deals like the one with the IMO were published sooner it "would have averted what happened."

On claims that the then-Health Minister Simon Harris was not aware of the document being sent to the NAGP, Mr Martin said: "I don't know about that but I think the objective of endeavouring to get GPs on board. I see no issue with that."

In relation to a question on issues surrounding Mr Varadkar's judgement and whether he agreed with the Tánaiste's insistence that no law has been broken Mr Martin said: "The Tánaiste himself has acknowledged that this was not best practice and that he regrets the manner in which the document was forwarded to the president of the NAGP.

"I also believe that it was an inappropriate way to deal with documents of this kind.

"I don't believe any law was broken in relation to this. I think yes, in terms of future practice lessons can be learned from this."

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