Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has accepted that his leaking of a confidential document to a friend was "inappropriate", however, he said allegations he broke the law were "false" and made by "sworn political opponents".
The Fine Gael leader made the comments in his second statement since he confirmed he will not face prosecution over the leaking of a GP contract in 2019.
Mr Varadkar has admitted that in April 2019 he sent a copy of a doctors’ pay deal between the State and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to Dr Maitiu O Tuathail.
Dr O Tuathail was head of the rival organisation, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), at the time.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Mr Varadkar said the disclosure was lawful and that "I did so in the public interest".
He said it was an "error", adding: "I bear sole responsibility for it."
'Sworn political opponents'
Mr Varadkar said: "I accept that my use of an informal personal channel was inappropriate. It was my error and I bear sole responsibility for it. I have been held to account for those actions in the Dáil. I have apologised for it and I want to do so again.
"However, the allegations made against me, that it was anything more than error, were false. They were made by sworn political opponents of me and my Party.
"I know that I did not break any law, do anything corrupt or even self-interested. That is now clear to any fair-minded person.
"Those who made these allegations went to extraordinary lengths to publicise them. Their actions were politically motivated and often highly personalised at times. The tactics and motives of those persons ought to be the subject of some reflection. It is now a matter of public record that at least one of those persons was subject to investigation in respect of their own conduct in this affair."
Mr Varadkar also said he wanted to "clarify" the following points:
- The document was as it was entitled – ‘An agreement on service delivery and contractual reform.’ It was not a contract. The use of the term ‘contract’ was deliberately used to create the impression that I had interfered in some sort of competition or tender process, or conferred an advantage on somebody in doing so. This was emphatically not the case.
- The document was not classified and did not go to Cabinet. Therefore, I could not have breached Cabinet confidentiality which some have claimed. While the document was marked confidential on the day it was generated, by the time I disclosed it almost two weeks later, the contents were largely in the public domain.
- The document was not a pay deal. The State cannot enter into pay deals with self-employed contractors. There was a revised fee schedule issued by the Minister following consultations. That was released and made public long before I disclosed the document.
- It has been suggested that I was investigated for a data protection offence. This was never the case. No personal data was involved.
- It was suggested that a complaint was made against me by a health official. This was not the case nor did anyone ever come forward to say they were a victim of a crime.
Mr Varadkar thanked his fellow coalition leaders, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, along with "the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and Party members, my staff, family, partner and friends for their trust, confidence and faith in me and for their patience".
He concluded: "I am very aware that many people and politicians are not allowed due process, the benefit of the doubt or the presumption of innocence. I am very grateful that - because of them - I was. It is something I will reflect on further.
"I also want to thank my legal advisers. I have a greater understanding now of the importance of legal representation and advice."
Mr Varadkar is due to become the Taoiseach again in December, replacing Micheál Martin, as part of the coalition deal that saw Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party form a government in 2020.