The State’s political standards watchdog has been asked to investigate Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s leak of a confidential GP contract to the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).
RISE TD Paul Murphy has sent a detailed complaint to the Standards of Public Office Commission (Sipo) asking them to review the Tánaiste’s decision to pass an unpublished agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to their rival GP representative group.
In a letter, seen by Independent.ie, Mr Murphy outlines what he believes are a number of code of conduct breaches stemming from the Tánaiste's actions.
Mr Murphy asked Sipo to investigate if Mr Varadkar breached the ‘Code of Conduct for Office Holders’ and the ‘Code of Conduct for Members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann’.
He said the allegations published by the ‘Village Magazine’ and confirmed by the Tánaiste’s statement speaks to a “culture of insiders helping insiders with confidential information”.
The RISE TD noted the SIPO ‘Code of Conduct’ says “office holders in particular should … respect confidences entrusted to them in the course of their official duties”.
He says the ‘Code of Conduct for Members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann’ states that “Members must not use official information which is not in the public domain, or information obtained in confidence in the course of their official duties, for personal gain or the personal gain of others”.
“There is clear evidence that Leo Varadkar breached these provisions of the relevant Codes of Conduct when as Taoiseach in April 2019, he gave a confidential document concerning the contract negotiations between the government and the Irish Medical Organisation to his friend and political supporter, Dr. Maitiú Ó’Tuathail,” Mr Murphy said.
In his Statement on Saturday, Mr Varadkar noted the code of conduct and referenced the section on respecting confidences in office.
“The Taoiseach did respect confidences, but this completely misses the point,” it added.
“By 6th April 2019, the substance of the Agreement had been extensively press released and was already in the public domain, and it was available to the IMO who had negotiated it,” the statement said.
“The provision of it to the NAGP did not breach any confidence and was entirely consistent with a public commitment made in the Dáil to keep the NAGP abreast of the negotiations,” it added.
Mr Varadkar will address the Dáil tomorrow on the allegations and also face questioning from Opposition TDs.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he has confidence in the Tánaiste and insisted he did not act unlawfully.
Mr Martin also said if the document had been released early the current controversy may have been averted.
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has also supported Mr Varadkar saying it was time to "move on" from the controversy.
You are a serious contender for 'Best Political Nerd of 2020' if you can remember a referendum in October 1997 about cabinet confidentiality. The reality is almost nobody remembers this one, in which less than half the nation bothered to vote and it was very nearly lost despite cross-party political support.
TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said the way Tánaiste Leo Varadkar shared a copy of the pay deal with the IMO to a rival GPs' organisation was "inappropriate" but that he doesn't believe any laws have been broken.