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Mary Lou McDonald calls for Tánaiste to resign over 'abuse of power'

The Sinn Féin leader has described Leo Varadkar sharing a GP contract with a rival organisation as a “blatant abuse of power”.

Image: PA

THE LEADER OF Sinn Féin is calling for the Tánaiste to resign or be removed as gardaí investigate the leaking of a GP contract to a rival organisation in 2019.

Mary Lou McDonald has described the leak as a “blatant abuse of power” and said that Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar “needs to go”.

The garda inquiry into the sharing of the contract is now being treated as a criminal investigation.

The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating whether there has been a breach of corruption legislation or the Official Secrets Act, which provides for the safeguarding of official information. 

Varadkar apologised for “errors of judgement” in November as he told the Dáil he gave a copy of an agreement negotiated between the Government and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to the National Association of General Practioners, a rival GP group, in April 2019.

In a statement this afternoon, McDonald said that the Tánaiste has “been forced to change his story repeatedly as more and more information has come to light”.

The leak of the report, she said, “was an abuse of power by the then Taoiseach designed to give advantage to a friend”. 

McDonald said that “politically this cannot be tolerated”.

“The whole matter is now being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the gardaí need to be allowed to do their job.

“However, our position remains as it was in November. The Fine Gael leader needs to go.”

Sinn Féin put forward a motion of no confidence in Varadkar last November. 

The motion was overriden and the government tabled a confidence motion, which was proposed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

The outcome of the vote was 92 to 65 in favour of the government after a two hour debate.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics yesterday, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said that Varadkar should “absolutely not” step down from his position in Cabinet.

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“The Tánaiste has made his position very clear in the Dáil last November and he has said it was an error of judgement,” she said.

Humphreys said that Varadkar’s actions were “in the interests of GPs, in the interests of patients, and in the interests of the general public”.

Previously, Garda involvement was concerned with determining whether an offence had been committed, but the inquiry is now being treated as a criminal investigation.

In a statement yesterday, a spokesperson for the Tánaiste said that the gardaí “have not been in contact with the Tánaiste about this matter”.

“Last month, on foot of media reports, his solicitors contacted the Gardaí to confirm his willingness to meet them and provide a statement,” the spokesperson said.

“His legal advice is that he has committed no offence and looks forward to the matter being concluded.”

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