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    Leo Varadkar news: Former Taoiseach facing fresh political turmoil of leak of GP contract | Politics | News

    Leo Varadkar grilled on confidential document leak in Oireachtas

    However, the leader has lashed out against political rivals , insisting he had already offered a public apology and accusing them of trying to “reheat” the incident. Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said records released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act have indicated then-health minister was unable to obtain a copy of the contract himself.

    The records also included warnings from Department of Health officials that publication of the proposed contract for GPs in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) “would represent a serious breach of trust”.

    Neither are there any written records of a request from Mr Varadkar to the department asking for a copy of the contract, said Mr Doherty.

    Mr Varadkar, who was replaced in the top job by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin in June, has previously admitted to giving a copy of the contract to his friend Dr Maitiu O Tuathail, at the time president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), a rival of the IMO, in April 2019.

    Mr Doherty told the Dail, Ireland’s main legislature: “It is a scandal that goes far deeper than what we once thought.

    Leo Varadkar Ireland

    Leo Vardakar is under pressure once again (Image: GETTY)

    Sinn Fein Mary Lou McDonald

    Sinn Fein is led by Mary Lou McDonald (Image: PA)

    It is a scandal that goes far deeper than what we once thought

    Pearse Doherty

    “They show in the documents that at the same time you leaked this document, that the line minister responsible for the negotiations, Simon Harris was unable to obtain a contract from his officials.

    “This is despite Simon Harris telling the Dail in November that he never requested a copy of the contract.

    “He must explain for his actions, and he must correct the record of the Dail.

    “Within the documents I received there are repeated warnings from the Department officials reiterating the confidentiality of the document and that it was still subject to negotiations with the IMO.”

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    Simon Harris

    Simon Harris, Ireland’s former health minister (Image: PA)

    Mr Doherty read out a DoH note dated April 25 which stated that “unilateral publication of the agreement, in the absence of confirmation from the IMO that it is satisfied with the final text, would represent a serious breach of trust”.

    He added: “By that stage, you had already leaked the document to the president of the NAGP, your friend.”

    Mr Varadkar said he had already apologised for his actions in the Dail last November, accusing Mr Doherty of “trying to reheat an old political controversy”.

    He said there were no written records related to his request for the document at the department because he had requested it verbally.

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    Leo Varadkar Boris Johnson

    Leo Varadkar pictured with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: PA)

    Micheal Martin

    Micheal Martin took over from Mr Varadkar in June (Image: PA)

    He added: “My motivation, as I explained back in November, was to demonstrate to the president of the NAGP that this was a deal that they shouldn’t oppose, to mollify their opposition.”

    Mr Varadkar had previously told the Dail he had been given a copy of the draft contract agreement by Simon Harris on April 4 or 5 2019.

    He subsequently requested a second copy, provided by one of his advisers on April 10.

    Mr Harris then sought an updated copy of the final contract on April 15, ahead of a Dail debate.

    Leo Varadkar factfile

    Leo Varadkar factfile (Image: Express)

    He was provided with a copy on April 17.

    Mr Doherty said the FOI records included explanations from officials at the Department of Health why Minister Harris had been refused a copy of the document prior to then.

    He then told Mr Varadkar: “Your argument simply doesn’t hold up.

    “The contract was confidential, negotiations were ongoing.

    Phil Hogan

    Phil Hogan was criticised by Mr Varadkar after “golfgate” (Image: PA)

    “But despite all of this, you leaked this document in full knowledge of the consequences.”

    Speaking to Express.co.uk in November, Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “There is no doubt that Leo Varadkar has been personally damaged by this story.

    “He has been unrelenting in punishing others for mistakes such as Phil Hogan, and former Ministers Barry Cowen and Dara Calleary.

    “Leo made a serious error of judgment and would have had to go if he was an ordinary Minister.”


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