Leo Varadkar has said he does not believe he will face criminal charges over the leaking of a confidential document.
Ireland’s deputy premier has also hit out at what he called “misinformation” and “inaccurate” claims surrounding the controversy.
A Garda inquiry into the matter was updated to a criminal investigation in recent weeks, but when asked if he should step aside if charges are brought, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t believe it’s going to happen.”
The Tanaiste has admitted that in April 2019, while he was taoiseach, he sent a copy of a doctors’ pay deal between the State and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to his friend, Dr Maitiu O Tuathail.
Dr O Tuathail was head of the rival organisation, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), at the time.
Mr Varadkar has apologised for leaking the document, but has denied breaking any laws.
Appearing on The Michael Reade Show on LMFM on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar was asked, hypothetically, if a member of government should step aside temporarily if criminal charges are brought against them.
He replied: “I’m not contemplating that.
“I’ve been trying to avoid creating new stories about this issue.
“So, you know that’s not something I’m considering.
“I don’t believe it’s going to happen.
“What I’m saying is it’s not going to arise.”
Asked to clarify if he meant that charges will not be brought against him, he replied: “That’s correct.”
Mr Varadkar also claimed that a lot of what has been reported about the leak has been inaccurate.
He said: “There’s been a lot said about this and a lot of it isn’t accurate or true.
“I gave a full account about all of this to the Dail, both in November, in January, and won a confidence motion on it in the Dail.
“It was not a contract, nor was it a draft contract.
“It wasn’t a cabinet document, nor a budget secret.
“So a lot of the things that have been said about this are inaccurate and continue to be inaccurate.”
He added: “Again, this is part of the difficulty that I face.
“There’s been so much misinformation about this.
“All I know at this stage is that a complaint was made to the gardai back in November.
“The gardai have to do their job and investigate that complaint.
“They took statements from at least one Government Minister, Minister Harris back in January, which is how I heard that there was an investigation under way.
“My solicitor contacted the gardai at that point to say that I would be willing to give a statement or be interviewed, or whatever they need, and I’ve heard nothing since.”
Mr Varadkar said he would not allow the case to distract him from doing his job.
“I haven’t been contacted by the gardai about this matter at all.
“That’s where things stand.
“I can’t contemplate anything beyond that,” he said.
“It is going to distract people, it will distract the Opposition and it will distract people in the media too and that is fine.
“It won’t be distracting me from my job, I guarantee you that.”
Sinn Fein called for Mr Varadkar to resign or be sacked when it emerged the Garda inquiry had been updated to a criminal probe.
Mary Lou McDonald called the leak of the doctors’ pay agreement “an abuse of power” and said “politically this can’t be tolerated”.