TD says Tanaiste Leo Varadkar ‘should stand aside’ during garda investigation
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar should stand aside while the gardaí are investigating him, according to People Before Profit TD, Paul Murphy.© Getty Leo Varadkar
Murphy has told the Irish Mirror he doesn’t think Mr Varadkar can “credibly continue as Tanaiste” while the probe continues.
It is understood that detectives conducting the criminal investigation first revealed by the Mirror last month will soon be looking to interview Mr Varadkar “under caution”.
Sources have told this paper that this will be in the context of a possible offence committed in breach of either the Official Secrets Act, or the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Act.
The criminal investigation follows a whistleblower from the Department of Health coming forward.
Mr Murphy reported Mr Varadkar to the political ethics watchdog, SIPO (Standards in Public Office commission) in November over his admitted leaking of a confidential €210million GP contract to a doctor pal.
The leak happened in April 2019, when Mr Varadkar was Taoiseach, but was only made public when the Village magazine reported it last November.
The Mirror then last month revealed details of the serious investigation underway, with officers from the elite NBCI (National Bureau of Criminal Investigations) taking the lead.
We reported how a senior minister, former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, was interviewed in January in a gruelling three hour session and how he submitted a voluntary statement afterwards.
There was never any suspicion of wrongdoing on Mr Harris’ part.© Gareth Chaney/Collins Paul Murphy
The officers in SIPO have told Mr Murphy that his complaint is now on hold while the gardaí officially investigate Mr Varadkar.
Mr Murphy said: “The leader of the party of supposed ‘law and order’ and Tanaiste is under criminal investigation.
“Despite his bluster about his legal team saying he committed no offence, it underlines the seriousness of what he has admitted to.
“In admitting to giving a confidential document to a friend, he admitted to what certainly appears to be an offence under the Corruption Offences Act.
“He is also clearly in breach of the relevant Code of Conduct.
“I don’t see how he can credibly continue as Tanaiste in these circumstances.”
A spokesman for the Tanaiste told the Mirror: “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.
“His legal advice is that he has committed no offence and looks forward to the matter being concluded.”
Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar’s staunch Fine Gael colleague in Cabinet, Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has come out in defence of her leader.
Ms Humphreys said Mr Varadkar should “absolutely not” step aside.
Mr Varadkar’s coalition partners in Fianna Fáil and the Greens are standing by the Tánaiste for now.
Michael McGrath said the investigation will “take its course” and that it’s “not necessary” for Mr Varadkar to step aside while the investigation progresses.
A spokesman for the Greens did not respond to a request for comment from the Mirror.
An Garda Síochána would not comment on an ongoing investigation.