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Fianna Fáil TD claims Sinn Féin are using Varadkar controversey ‘to deflect from their troubles in North where they are hoarding money’

Niall Collins. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall Collins. Photo: Tom Burke

November 03 2020 11:15 PM

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has tonight said Sinn Féin are “building up” the controversy surrounding Leo Varadkar and the leaked IMO contract to “deflect away” from their “own troubles in the north of Ireland where you are hoarding money.”

The Further and Higher Education Minister of State made the claim on RTÉs Primetime while debating Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin on the motive behind Mr Varadkar’s actions when he gave a confidential document to the NAGP President in April 2019.

“It’s complete nonsense. Sinn Féin are building this up since Saturday. Primarily, I think to deflect away from your own troubles in the north of Ireland where you are hoarding money which should have gone to businesses throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

“The Tánaiste has quite clearly said that his motivation was to get as many people to sign up to the deal as it was a good deal for GPs,” Deputy Collins said.

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This came after the Sinn Féin TD suggested Leo Varadkar was not acting in the public interest and suggested it was a case of insider dealing.

It’s clear he did not do this in the public interest. A few days prior to this, Maitiú Ó Tuathail asked Simon Harris for the info, and after consulting with his departmental officials, refused to give it to him. The then-Taoiseach had no business being involved in this.

This is very clearly a case of insider dealing whereby Fine Gael gives information to a personal friend and a political ally to help that person to save their organisation.

“We want every single bit of documentation to be in the public domain. We do not believe the Tánaiste’s defence today.

“Why was it that the then-Minister for Health didn’t think this information should be given to the NAGP and the Taoiseach did,” Ó Broin said.

The Dublin TD also suggested there was chaos and a lack of communication among the government, which has been highlighted by this issue.

“Leo Varadkar didn’t have the courtesy to pick up the phone to his counterpart in government. More of an example of a government in chaos with two parties not talking to each other; that is not the way to do business.

Collins admitted it wasn’t Varadkar’s “finest hour” and that the government “could have done without this.”

Collins pointed out that Varadkar admitted his methods were flawed but insisted his motivations were in the public interest.

There clearly wasn’t [commercially-sensitive information leaked]. The IMO were briefed and had briefed their membership. The info was also out there via the HSE. His motivation was clear and ultimately the deal was signed up to by the vast majority of GPs,” he said.

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