Varadkar to be questioned in Dáil over disclosure of IMO report

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Mr Varadkar has denied any wrongdoing
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James Cox

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar  is expected to face questioning in the Dáil over providing a copy of a draft Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) agreement with a rival representative group for doctors.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Mr Varadkar confirmed he provided a copy of the agreement to Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail, president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), on a date between April 11th and 16th, 2019.

While he admitted this was not "best practice", Mr Varadkar has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said an article published in The Village Magazine was “inaccurate and grossly defamatory".

Mr Varadkar said he has sought legal advice on the matter.

The statement said “extraordinarily inaccurate claims had been made by Village Magazine".

"manifestly wrong"

It went on to say the magazine was “manifestly wrong” to suggest Mr Varadkar had breached the Official Secrets Acts, 1963, by sharing a draft of the proposed IMO contract with the NAGP.

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“The ambit of that Act is limited to persons holding a “public office”... the definition of “public office” expressly excludes members of either House of the Oireachtas.”

The statement also said it would be wrong to claim the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 was breached.

It adds that it would be "wholly wrong to suggest a breach of the Dáil members’ Code of Conduct 2002.

“There is no credible suggestion that the provision of the agreement by the Taoiseach to the president of the NAGP was for “personal gain”.

“On the contrary, the motivation of the Taoiseach was clearly to advance Government policy, and it was to further the prospects of the Agreement being accepted by General Practitioners which was entirely in the public interest.”

It goes on to point out that the agreement was in the public domain by April 6th.

GP Contract

On April 5th, 2019, the IMO issued a press release announcing a deal with the Government on a new GP contract.

The full 108 page terms of agreement was published on May 17th.

"The Tánaiste accepts that the provision of the Agreement by an informal communication channel to the president of the NAGP was not best practice and he regrets that he did not ensure that it was provided in a more appropriately formal manner," Mr Varadkar's statement said.

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The IMO/Government deal was worth €210 million.

The press release after the agreement was reached said it would see “the long-sought reversal of the controversial FEMPI cuts of €120 million (plus €10 million in pension contributions) imposed on General Practice at the height of the financial crisis as well as an additional fund of €80 million has been secured for the management of GMS Patients with Chronic Disease in the community".

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Varadkar labels allegations over GP deal 'inaccura...
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Then-Taoiseach Varadkar formally announced the deal at an event in a general practice clinic in Cabra in Dublin, adding that it would lead to the phased introduction of free GP care for children up to age 12.

Speaking on This Week on RTÉ radio this afternoon, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said Taoiseach Micheál Martin had outlined his concern at the way the information was shared by Mr Varadkar.

"He is very aware of the duty he has to the Dáil to answer questions. He wants to explain why he acted like he did," said Mr Donohoe.

He added: "By virtue of the statement yesterday, I know he feels himself it could've been done differently, all he did was driven by trying to get agreement to a new GP contract. He and I would acknowledge the way it was shared, it could've been done differently."

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