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'serious allegation' Varadkar expected to make statement on 'leak' claims

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Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is facing a growing number of calls to address claims he gave a confidential government document outlining a GP pay deal agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to a rival representative group for doctors.

Government TDs and opposition politicians have called on Mr Varadkar to address the claims he gave a copy of a recently agreed contract with the IMO to the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

The Tánaiste is currently taking legal advice on the claims and is expected to issue a statement outlining his position. A senior Fine Gael source said the allegations will be a “political issue” for Mr Varadkar.

The Tánaiste has spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Maritn ahead of making a statement.

The Village Magazine alleged that text and WhatsApp messages they obtained show Mr Varadkar sent prominent NAGP member Maitiú Ó Tuathail a copy of a document marked ‘confidential/not for circulation’ outlining a proposed new GP contract the Government agreed with the IMO.

On April 17, Mr Ó Tuathail reportedly posted a photograph of the ‘terms of agreement between the Department of Health, the HSE and the IMO re: GP contractual reform and sever development’ in a NAGP WhatsApp group.

The Village Magazine claim Mr Ó Tuathail also suggested to Community Hospital Ireland (CHI) founder Chay Bowe that he received the document from Mr Varadkar.

Ten days earlier on April 5, 2019, the IMO announced it had reached a €210m deal with the Government on a new GP contract.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan said there is a “serious and specific allegation” made about the “disclosure of a confidential government document” and called on the Tánaiste to issue a statement .

He was supported by his Fianna Fáil colleague Marc MacSharry who said The Tánaiste must make a statement on the “troubling content” outlined in the Village Magazine.

“He should also make himself available for questions in the Dail next week on the matter. These are serious accusations which must be addressed,” Mr MacSharry added.

Sinn Féin business spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said the allegations are “extremely serious” and called for the Fine Gael leader to make a full statement.

“This is an allegation that, while he was Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar disclosed commercially sensitive information to a personal friend who was a senior member of a rival organisation to the one that the government was in negotiations with on a contract worth hundreds of millions of euro,” she said.

Mr O’Reilly said the information in the IMO contract could have been of “financial benefit” to the NAGP.

“People will be very angry about this, particularly as it comes just weeks after the cosy relationship between Fine Gael and high finance was exposed once again. The old boys network that runs this state needs to be broken up once and for all,” she added.

RISE TD Paul Murphy said he will be writing to the Dáil Business Committee asking for time to be set aside to allow Mr Varadkar address the allegations. Independent TD Thomas Pringle also said he would be asking the committee to allow the Tánaiste address the Dáil. The Labour Party and Social Democrats also called for Mr Varadkar to make a statement.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s spokesperson said they will not be commenting on the matter.

The Green Party did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Ó Tuathail has been contacted for comment but has not responded.

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