Taoiseach ‘not answerable’ for previous government on Varadkar leak

Taoiseach ‘not answerable’ for previous government on Varadkar leak

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he will publish relevant correspondence with GP body. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

The Taoiseach has asked his department to examine what correspondence exists between it and the now-defunct National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

However, Micheál Martin said while he would publish all relevant communications with the representative body — which received a confidential document from then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last year — none had yet been found beyond a letter related to medical cards being withdrawn.

During Leaders' Questions, Mr Martin said he is "not answerable" for the previous government, but said  Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald's assertion he is "refusing" to publish correspondence is not true.

"I will publish anything that is of relevance to this matter. I have asked my secretary-general to have a preliminary look at what is in my department, following the deputy's letter that arrived late yesterday evening.

"The only thing that has been found so far is a letter from Chris Goodey of the NAGP, dated April 9, to the Department of the Taoiseach.

"The letter was sent to the then minister for health, Deputy Harris, on April and was copied to the then taoiseach and the then chairman of the committee of public accounts, Deputy Fleming. 

"It relates to the NAGP's concern regarding the removal of medical cards from patients by the primary care reimbursement service.

"This is the letter I received from the secretary general this morning. It is the only letter and I felt obliged to bring it in because I know the deputy was very concerned about what she perceives to be numerous pieces of correspondence in my department on this issue."

Ms McDonald said news that the correspondence will be made available is "welcome" but said Mr Martin has given Mr Varadkar "a clean bill of health".

"I welcome that all of the documentation will be made public from the Taoiseach's department and the Department of Health. When was he informed that this document had been leaked? 

"When did the Tánaiste tell him about it? When did the Tánaiste get the GP document? 

"Had the Tánaiste informed other members of Cabinet about it, and so on? He has said that these are matters of not best practice. Weasel words if ever I heard them."

Mr Martin said he found out the document had been leaked by Mr Varadkar on Saturday morning.

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