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Doctors union threatened to campaign against Fine Gael two months before Varadkar leak


Maitiú Ó Tuathail socialising with Leo Varadkar

Maitiú Ó Tuathail socialising with Leo Varadkar

Maitiú Ó Tuathail socialising with Leo Varadkar

The GP union at the centre of the Leo Varadkar leak controversy threatened to campaign against Fine Gael in local and general elections two months before he leaked the organisation a confidential pay deal for doctors.

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) issued the stark warning to Fine Gael TDs on February 11, 2019 - three months before the local and European elections.

However, in April 2019, Mr Varadkar, who was then Taoiseach, leaked a copy of a contract the Government agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to the then NAGP president Dr Maitiú Ó’Tuathail, who was also a personal friend.

In the NAGP letter, which was signed by the union’s chief executive Chris Goodey, TDs were told that GPs intended to campaign against their local Fine Gael TDs, senators and councillors unless they were included in pay negotiations with the IMO on a new GP contract.

“This activity could involve up to 2,100 individual GPs informing their patients personally about the health policies of Fine Gael TDs and councillors in the up coming local and general elections, and the detrimental effect that these policies are having on patient services in the community,” Mr Goodey said.

“Our members advise us that they will inform their patients of the failings in the health service and the role of Fine Gael in the demise of community and GP services,” he added.

Mr Goodey said this may include posters in waiting rooms and media campaigns by GPs on local radio stations and in regional newspapers. The union said their members intended to use their “unique strategic position within the community” to influence the forthcoming local and general elections.

“All other political parities have expressed support for the NAGP being actively involved in the process of negotiation and reform,” Mr Goodey said.

“This letter is to advise you of the mood of our individual members but also to record a willingness of the NAGP council to seek to prevent further spontaneous escalation of this dispute on GP representation and contract reforms,” he added.

Mr Varadkar provided Dr Ó Tuathail with a copy of the IMO GP contract on a date between 11th and 16th April 2019.

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He said he hoped the NAGP President could convince his members to accept the GP contract agreed with the IMO.

He said giving the contract to Dr Ó Tuathail should be seen in the context of the “potential unfairness” of the NAGP being excluded from negotiations.

Mr Varadkar also said he was “honouring a political commitment” made by the Government to keep the NAGP up to date on the contract talks.

The Tánaiste has admitted it was “not best practice” to post the contract to Dr Ó Tuathail at that time and it should have been “provided in a more appropriately formal manner”.

“The provision of a copy the Agreement to Dr Ó Tuathail, in his capacity as President of the NAGP occurred in circumstances where the legitimate objective of this action was to encourage acceptance of the Agreement amongst the General Practitioner community,” a Fine Gael statement said.

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