Gabhaim buíochas a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Ba mhaith liom ceisteanna a chur ar an Tánaiste i dtaobh an sceite eolais a rinne sé ón gconradh rúnda a bhí idir an IMO agus an Roinn Sláinte agus a thug sé dá chara. Mar gheall ar an eolas atá againn le cúpla lá anuas, tá a fhios againn anois go ndearna neamhaird ar an achainí a rinne an tAire Sláinte an t-am sin, an Teachta Simon Harris, chun cóip den chonradh seo a fháil. Ba é sin an tAire a bhí i gceannas na gcainteanna seo agus níor tugadh an conradh dó, ach ag an am céanna bhí an Tánaiste ag roinnt an chonartha lena chara san National Association of General Practitioners, NAGP. Tá níos mó ceisteanna le freagairt maidir lena chuid gníomhartha sa scannal seo.
In April 2019, the Tánaiste leaked a confidential document to a friend of his, the then head of the NAGP. This was the subject of controversy back in November 2020, when Village magazine broke the story. Last week I received correspondence following a request made under freedom of information. This was information that my party leader had requested for more than two months. It is little wonder that these documents were withheld from us for so long. They are damning, and the Tánaiste's defence of how he leaked the confidential document now lies in tatters.
It is a scandal that goes far deeper than what we once thought. The documents show that at the same time as the Tánaiste leaked this document, the line Minister responsible for the negotiations, Deputy Harris, was unable to obtain the contract from his officials. This is despite the Minister, Deputy Harris, telling the Dáil in November that he never requested a copy of the contract. He must explain his actions and he must correct the record of the Dáil.
Within the documents I received, there are repeated warnings from Department officials reiterating the confidentiality of the document and stating that it was still subject to negotiations with the IMO. On 25 April, a Department official noted: "Unilateral publication of the Agreement, in the absence of confirmation from the IMO that it is satisfied with the final text, would represent a serious breach of trust." By that stage, the Tánaiste had already leaked the document to his friend, the president of the NAGP. This action was counter to what was needed to get the deal across the line and would undermine the IMO. That is very clear. Publication of the contract by the NAGP, as its national council discussed, could have collapsed the negotiations and a contract worth €210 million.
However, the most shocking revelation is actually what is not contained in these documents. I must ask the Tánaiste again where he got the document which he gave to his friend in the NAGP. There are numerous emails from the then Minister, Deputy Harris, requesting the document from his adviser on 15 April, to demanding the document on 17 April, and there are emails from officials to his office and to him explaining why they were not giving him the document. However, there is no record of the Tánaiste seeking the document from the Department of Health or of the Department giving him the document. There is nothing: no emails, no notes, no cover notes and no messages. The Tánaiste already admitted in November to deleting his messages from Maitiú Ó Tuathail surrounding all of this, so there are no records there either.
The Tánaiste received a request for the document from Maitiú Ó Tuathail. He then got the document from the Department of Health, sent it to Maitiú Ó Tuathail, and there is no record of it anywhere. Is it not the case that the Tánaiste went to extreme lengths to cover his tracks in all of this? Why? It is because he knew the significance of all of this. The Office of An Taoiseach was used to pull a stroke for a friend.
I ask the Tánaiste to explain to the Dáil how he got this document. How did he get this document without a trace and with no records? Why did he tell the Dáil that there was nothing to see here, when his argument simply does not hold up? The contract was confidential. Negotiations were ongoing. Despite all of this, the Tánaiste leaked the document in full knowledge of the consequences. This was not part of a Government strategy, as he claimed. This was a stroke for a friend, plain and simple. Does the Tánaiste not agree?