The Tánaiste told the former head of a GPs union that a contract he had supplied him with could not be taken as final, it was revealed in the Dáil this evening.
TDs cross-questioned Leo Varadkar about his actions as new details of text messages were revealed between Leo Varadkar and Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail, the former president of the now defunct NAGP, show the then-Taoiseach telling Dr Ó Tuathail of the contract that “there may still be some changes made to it so don’t take it as gospel”.
Previous text and WhatsApp messages revealed inlast weekend revealed that Mr Varadkar had supplied a copy of the draft GP contract agreed between the Government and the Irish Medical Organisation to the head of its rival organisation the NAGP in April 2019.
Mr Varadkar, on Saturday, acknowledged that he did indeed “provide” Dr Ó Tuathail, a high profile south Dublin GP, with the document but he insisted that no offence had been committed due to the information being already fully in the public domain.
This evening, new text messages were put to Mr Varadkar in the Dáil chamber after he had made a 15-minute speech defending his actions.
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked him if he was aware that then Minister for Health Simon Harris had been asked by Dr Ó Tuathail if he could obtain a copy of the contract for the NAGP on April 10 2019.
Mr Varadkar is alleged to have asked the doctor for his home address at 2pm on the same day.
“You’re reading out messages that weren’t for me,” Mr Varadkar replied.
“This one is for you,” Mr Doherty said.
He then read out a text allegedly from Dr Ó Tuathail to Mr Varadkar asking if he had “any luck” finding the contract.
“Should be in the post,” was the response.
Mr Doherty then raised another alleged text from Dr Ó Tuathail to an unknown recipient, stating Dr Ó Tuathail's desire to "destroy (the) IMO”.
“This is favours for friends and I don’t buy your analysis,” Mr Doherty said.
Labour education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin then told the Tánaiste that it was “sadly inevitable” that the meeting in the Dáil had happened.
“I had hoped you would stop treating the people of Ireland like fools,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said that he had contacted Dr Ó Tuathail three times since last Saturday, a fact that Mr Ó Ríordáin expressed incredulity over.
“Your judgement is really being called into question here,” Mr Ó Ríordáin said.
Mr Varadkar denied that he had been chatting with Dr Ó Tuathail, and said that the latter had been “over-egging” his closeness to the Tanaiste when sending a WhatsApp message saying: “Leo constantly pulling strings for me. You’ve no idea.”
“Dr Ó Tuathail is the kind of friend I would meet two or three times a year," Mr Varadkar said.
"We're not best mates or anything like that."
He repeated that he had never shared any other document in the same fashion, either before or after.
When asked what Dr Ó Tuathail meant by saying “Leo always delivers”, Mr Varadkar replied: “I think it's clear that Dr Ó Tuathail, for his own reasons, gave the impression of being closer to me than he was."
He said that as far as he knew “Dr Ó Tuathail was one of the decent people in that organisation.”