Records provided to Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD under Freedom of Information show that the Fine Gael leader, and then Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar obtained a copy of the Department of Health/HSE/IMO contract for a friend at the same time that the Minister for Health could not get a copy of the document.
Teachta Doherty has said that Leo Varadkar needs to explain how he was able to get his hands on a copy of the contract in April 2019 when there exists no records of any requests or correspondence to this effect in the Department of Health.
Teachta Doherty said:
“This scandal goes far deeper than we thought. It goes beyond favours for friends and the old boys network, and tears apart Leo Varadkar’s defence of his actions in November when this issue came to light.
“Leo Varadkar needs to explain how he was able to get his hands on a confidential document and provide it to his friend, when it is clear from records released to me that this contract was so confidential that the Minister for Health was not able to get a copy of it.
“It is staggering that the Minister with responsibility for these negotiations was not able to get this contract at a time when the then Taoiseach was providing it to his friend – the head of a rival GP organisation to the IMO.
“Leo Varadkar needs to explain why he told the Dáil that this information was in the public domain when these records show that negotiations with the IMO were ongoing and had not concluded. In fact – records show that Department of Health officials expressly warned that publication of the contract without the consent of the IMO would represent a serious breach of trust.
“Simon Harris told the Dáil in November that he never requested a copy of the contract, but these records I have obtained show that this is not the case. Only days after being contacted by Dr. Maithiú Ó Tuathail – then head of the NAGP – seeking a copy of the document, the Minister sought the document on two occasions from his officials. He needs to correct the Dáil record.
“All of this stinks. Why are there no records of Leo Varadkar asking for, or receiving, a copy of this confidential contact, when there are numerous pieces of correspondence showing that the Minister for Health was not able to get a copy of the document?
“This doesn’t add up and we need to hear a full explanation from the Fine Gael leader without delay.”