Leo, Have the Balls to, Stand Aside, until the Criminal Investigation, is over, by the DPP? Trust is Gone, at Present?

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‘It is ominous’ — Fine Gael’s agonising wait for DPP to decide Varadkar’s fate

 – 26th April 2022

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar will have to hope for a DPP decision on whether he will face a criminal trial for the leaking of documents before the end of the year.

A spokesman for Leo Varadkar has welcomed the end of the garda investigation and said: ‘The Tánaiste is pleased that this matter is now moving on and is very confident the outcome will be in his favour.’

Privately, though, the decision by the gardaí to refer the file, without a recommendation to the DPP, is believed to have been politically unwelcome for the Tánaiste.

One legal source noted: ‘It is ominous. A clean break where you’ve nothing to answer would have been better. Instead it means the whole thing still hangs over him. It’s just the location has moved to the DPP’s office. All is well and good if the DPP decides not to move, but if he faces a trial, all bets are off.’

Concern in Fine Gael over Mr Varadkar’s legal travails has increased in tandem with unease over his leadership.

One senior party source noted: ‘The people have no interest in this tale but that’s not Leo’s audience. Leo’s audience is 50 Fine Gael TDs and senators. Their unhappiness will continue to accelerate if this gets lost in the catacombs of the DPP’s office for another year.’

Comparing his difficulties to those of the British prime minister, a senior party figure said: ‘Leo will be watching the fate of Boris Johnson very closely. If they come for Boris over a couple of €50 fines for lockdown drinks, where does that leave us?’

Another source warned: ‘The doomsday scenario is still on. If he is charged he won’t last until Christmas. The party won’t be allowing Sinn Féin to make hay of this for the summer.’

Another said: ‘We are still in limbo. We don’t know if it is the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end.’

Fine Gael spent Sunday heavily spinning the expectation that the DPP will report before the politically sensitive Taoiseach handover from Mr Martin to Mr Varadkar, as agreed in the coalition negotiations two years ago.

Statistics supplied by Fine Gael show that, in 2020, eight of the more than 15,500 files referred to the DPP took over a year to process. Just 2% of files took between six and 12 months while 6% took three to six months. Another 16% took between one and three months with the remaining 75% processed in less than a month.

In what will come as a boost to Mr Varadkar, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan offered the Tánaiste a vote of confidence, noting he expects the investigation to be resolved before December.

Mr Ryan spoke to the Tánaiste on Saturday but declined to comment publicly on their exchanges. Speaking to RTÉ, Mr Ryan declined to comment on his expectation of when the DPP would report, noting: ‘I would leave that to the DPP. There is a very important precedent in our State concerning the independence of the DPP.’

Mr Ryan also said that, when it comes to the Government’s list of issues, ‘I do not think it is interfering with what we have to do’.

However, his party colleague Neasa Hourigan has previously warned she would find it ‘very difficult’ to vote for Mr Varadkar in December if he is still under a significant investigation.

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