Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said there should be “due process” for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar after gardaí sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) following their investigation into the leak of a GP pay deal.
Gardaí confirmed at the weekend that they had sent a file to the DPP after concluding their investigation.
“An Garda Síochána can confirm that an investigation file on this matter has been submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for its consideration.” a statement said.
“As this matter is now for consideration by the Office of the DPP, An Garda Síochána will not be commenting any further.”
The investigation was launched after Mr Varadkar confirmed he had leaked a copy of the proposed new GP contract to a friend – Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail – in April 2019. The document contained details of the deal the then government had provisionally agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation.
At the time, Dr Ó Tuathail was the president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), a rival organisation also representing GPs that is now defunct.
Mr Varadkar apologised for his actions in the Dáil, and survived a Sinn Féin vote of no confidence. He insisted he had not broken the law, and defended his actions by saying he had circulated the contract to encourage NAGP members to agree to it.
Speaking on Sunday in Cork, Mr Martin said he had “been consistent on this from the outset – due process is important for every individual in the country irrespective of whether you are a politician or not”.
“Due process has to be followed here. The presumption of innocence in respect of any complaints that are made to the Garda, [when they are] pursued and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“As far as I am concerned it is with the DPP now and it is inappropriate for me to comment on that given the independence of the DPP.
“I have made my point – as far as I am concerned – this is a very fundamental value within our society in terms of due process and the presumption of innocence in relation to matters of this kind.”
Speaking on Sunday, a spokeswoman for Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, when asked if Mr Ryan would be comfortable voting for Mr Varadkar as taoiseach in December if the matter was not resolved, said it would be “inappropriate for the Minister to comment on an ongoing investigation”.
“The DPP must now be afforded the time needed to examine the file sent to it by the Garda – preferably without the distraction of political speculation. While the DPP’s consideration progresses, the Government Coalition parties and leaders will continue to focus on the critical issues affecting the country and people’s daily lives.”
The spokeswoman clarified earlier comments by Mr Ryan about how long the DPP might take to consider the matter, saying he thought a decision may be complete before the switch.
Mr Varadkar previously said he did not believe charges would be brought against him.
In the Dáil last year, he also rejected as “false and without foundation and deeply offensive” any suggestion that he had anything to gain personally from the disclosure.