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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald says Leo Varadkar ‘needs to go’ over leak investigation as file to be sent to DPP

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald says Leo Varadkar ‘needs to go’ over leak investigation as a file to be sent to DPP.

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MARY Lou McDonald has said that Tanaiste Leo Varadkar “needs to go” over the criminal investigation into his leaking of confidential documents

Last year, it was revealed that the then Taoiseach had provided a draft report of a confidential pay deal agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation to a rival group of medics.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald says Leo Varadkar ‘needs to go’ over leak investigation as file to be sent to DPP
PA: Press Association

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald[/caption]

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald says Leo Varadkar ‘needs to go’ over leak investigation as file to be sent to DPP
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald says Leo Varadkar ‘needs to go’ over leak investigation as file to be sent to DPP
Alamy

A Garda Siochana are to send a file to the DPP[/caption]

Yesterday, it emerged that gardai upgraded the initial scoping exercise into the leak to a criminal inquiry.

The upgraded probe will determine the facts surrounding the incident and gather evidence for a file to be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In a statement, Sinn Fein leader McDonald said that the Tanaiste – who was Taoiseach at the time of the leak – has “only remained in office because Fianna Fail, the Greens, and several Independents are keeping him there.”

RESIGNATION CALLS

McDonald said: “He has only remained in office because Fianna Fáil, the Greens, and several independents are keeping him there.

“He gave a cock and bull story to the Dáil last November and has been forced to change his story repeatedly as more and more information has come to light.

“He told the Dáil that the confidential document was already in the public domain – that is not true, the Health Minister couldn’t even get the document at the time.

“He told the Dáil that he had received a copy of the document from the Department of Health. However, there are no records of how he got it, and he has changed his story since then.

“This was a political stroke, pure and simple. It was an abuse of power by the then Taoiseach designed to give advantage to a friend. This was about doing favors for insiders. Politically this cannot be tolerated.

“The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now investigating the whole matter, and the Gardaí need to be allowed to do their job.

UPGRADED INVESTIGATION

“However, our position remains as it was in November. The Fine Gael leader needs to go.”

A file is being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the investigation in the next two months.

According to the Irish Times, this will take place within the next two months after garda investigations.

Whether or not to charge Varadkar with any offense will rest with the DPP – although it is likely that gardai will issue a recommendation.

Yesterday, Government TDs insisted that Tanaiste Leo Varadkar should not stand aside after Gardai upgraded their investigation into the leaking of a confidential document.

The Tanaiste received unwavering support from his Government colleagues yesterday, including Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys – who will assume the justice minister’s role when Helen McEntee takes maternity leave.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Asked if the Tanaiste should stand aside, without prejudice, from his position at Cabinet while gardaí investigate the matter, Minister Humphreys said: “Absolutely not.”

“The Tanaiste made his position very clear in the Dail last November. He said it was an error of judgment.

“What he did was in the interest of GPs, in the interest of patients, and the interest of the general public.

Speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics, she continued: “He had nothing to gain from sharing that document – only to try and get a resolution to a longstanding issue over GP contracts.

“I think it’s important that we allow the gardai to continue their investigations, and the Tanaiste has made it very clear that he is willing to meet and talk to them at any stage.”

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath also said that he didn’t feel it was “necessary” for the Tanaiste to step down.

He said that the Fine Gael leader had the full confidence of Fianna Fail and was entitled to due process.

NOT ‘NECESSARY’

Speaking on the same program, he said: “The gardai should be given the time and space to work through this investigation in the normal way.

“None of us know how long such an investigation might take and how long it might take then for an eventual decision to be made.”

N 2019, the Irish Medical Organisation was negotiating a new contract for GPs with the Government.

At the beginning of April, before the final €210million deal was officially published for the public, the Tanaiste – then Taoiseach – sent a copy of the new contract to the IMO president’s rival organization, the NAGP, Dr. Maitiu O’Tuathail.

Sinn Fein tabled a motion of no confidence against the Tanaiste in November when the leak emerged.

 

Last November, an under-fire Varadkar told the Dail that he posted the document to him because he wanted the NAGP to get behind the Government’s new GP deal and promote it.

Varadkar apologized for the incident but insisted he had “committed no offense” and offered to speak with gardai.

A garda statement said that the organization “did not comment on any ongoing investigations.”