Irish police investigating Varadkar over doctors’ document disclosure

Michael McHugh, PA
·2-min read

Irish police are investigating deputy premier Leo Varadkar over the disclosure of a confidential Government document.

The former Taoiseach has told the Dail parliament he gave a copy of a pay agreement between the State and a doctors’ organisation to a rival group of GPs.

The Director of Public Prosecutions will decide whether or not any laws may have been broken and whether or not criminal charges are appropriate.

Mr Varadkar has denied any wrongdoing and offered to meet with gardai to answer any questions they may have.

His spokesman told RTE: “The gardai have not been in contact with the Tanaiste about this matter.

“Last month, on foot of media reports, his solicitors contacted the gardai to confirm his willingness to meet them and provide a statement.

“His legal advice is that he has committed no offence and looks forward to the matter being concluded.”

Mr Varadkar leads the Fine Gael party and is himself a qualified doctor.

He is Enterprise Minister in the current coalition Government.

The document on the deal between the State and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) was passed to his friend, Maitiu O Tuathail, in April 2019.

Mr O Tuathail was then president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

Mr Varadkar apologised for his actions, while he was Taoiseach, in the Dail but said he had not broken the law.

He said he had circulated the contract to encourage NAGP members to agree to it.

Garda headquarters said it does not comment on ongoing investigations.

Detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), under the direction of Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, had been conducting “preliminary inquiries” into whether an offence may have been committed under the Official Secrets Act.

It is understood the inquiry is an investigation.

The Fine Gael leader came under fire for passing on the documents regarding a GP pay deal.

The Government won a confidence motion in Mr Varadkar on the issue.

Coronavirus – Mon Oct 5, 2020
Stephen Donnelly said he was not made aware of a complaint from a whistleblower in his department that prompted the inquiry (Niall Carson/PA)

The Tanaiste said he recognised his actions were “not best practice”, but insisted he had nothing personally to gain from the leak and said he did so to secure backing for the deal from all GPs.

The Health Minister recently said he will co-operate with a Garda investigation if asked.

Stephen Donnelly said he was not made aware of a complaint from a whistleblower in his department that prompted the inquiry.

Mr Varadkar is part of a Government buffeted by the pandemic and adapting to the impact of post-Brexit checks at Ireland’s ports.