These four questions need now to be asked in the Dáil, as Leo Varadkar has not replied to Village‘s attempt to get answers.
By Michael Smith.
Since we live in a democracy lying to the Dáil is a resigning offence. Village has made the case that the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has run to cover over his leak of the confidential IMO-negotiated contract to his mate. Meanwhile most though not all of the media have moved on to the next issue.
Here are the questions I asked of the Tánaiste on Monday 16 November. I annotate them below:
Thank-you for the email I received on your behalf…on 13 November.
It remains unclear which precisely of the alleged encounters referred to in https://villagemagazine.ie/at-least-10-times-not-2-or-3/ you have denied. Can you provide clarification?
Are you still claiming that you were in Barcelona at a time that proves you could not have had any particular one of the ten alleged encounters with Dr Ó Tuathail; and if so can you please say when in 2019 you were in Barcelona?
Can you please state whether Matt Barrett spoke to Dr Ó Tuathail on your behalf or otherwise, during the nine days you referred to in the Dáil, about the leak affair and/or its fallout; and whether during that period Mr Barrett spoke to Dr Ó Tuathail about the accuracy of the references to the encounters that were referred to in Village‘s statement, or about Dr Ó Tuathail denying them. Can you please say if you forwarded the brochure and any other correspondence you received by WhatsApp or otherwise from Dr Ó Tuathail promoting Community Hospital Ireland, as opposed to Community Health Ireland, on a private account, to an official government account.
I would be grateful for a reply tomorrow 17 November to meet a deadline”.
No reply was received.
Here are explanations of the questions:
1) It remains unclear which precisely of the alleged encounters referred to in https://villagemagazine.ie/at-least-10-times-not-2-or-3/ you have denied. Can you provide clarification? [AS PART OF HIS EFFORT TO DENY LAWBREAKING THE TÁNAISTE CLAIMED THE PURPOSE OF LEAKING THE DOCUMENT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN TO ADVANCE THE INTERESTS OF HIS FRIEND MATT Ó TUATHAIL, PRESIDENT OF THE NAGP, AS HE WAS NOT A CLOSE FRIEND BUT SOMEONE HE WOULD MEET “TWO OR THREE TIMES A YEAR”. VARADKAR CONJURED AN IMAGE OF HIMSELF AS TAOISEACH SOWING HARMONY BETWEEN THE NAGP (AN ORGANISATION SOME OF WHOSE LEADERS MAY SHORTLY BE PROSECUTED FOR THEFT AND CORRUPTION) AND THE IMO. VILLAGE TORPEDOED THIS DEFENCE WITH EVIDENCED ALLEGATIONS OF TEN MEETINGS IN 2019. IT SAID THAT IT DID NOT NEED TO PROVE ALL OF THESE FOR IT TO BE EVIDENT THAT THE NUMBER OF MEETINGS WAS QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT – OF A DIFFERENT ORDER – FROM TWO OR THREE, ESPECIALLY WHEN NO NORMAL PERSON RECORDS ANYTHING MORE THAN A FRACTION OF THEIR SOCIAL ENGAGEMENTS WITH A FRIEND, ON WHATSAPP! VARADKAR THEN SEEMS TO HAVE DISPROVED ONE MEETING, ON 30 JUNE 2019 – WHEN HE WAS IN BRUSSELS THE DAY AFTER HE, PASCHAL DONOHOE, SIMON HARRIS, KATE O’CONNELL TD AND OTHERS IN FINE GAEL HAD BEEN PHOTOGRAPHED MEETING Ó’TUATHAIL DURING 2019’S PRIDE FESTIVITIES. WE ATTACH A NEW PHOTO OF O’TUATHAIL WITH HARRIS AND O’CONNELL THAT DAY.
CHAY BOWES RECEIVED TEXTS FROM Ó TUATHAIL SHOWING HE WAS UP VERY LATE [HE SAID HE FELT “FUCKED”] FOLLOWING PRIDE AND WAS EXPECTING TO MEET DONOHOE AND VARADKAR ON 30 JUNE. LIKE SOME MEETINGS PLANNED THE NIGHT BEFORE, IT CLEARLY DID NOT HAPPEN AS ENVISAGED. MEANWHILE CHAY BOWES HAS UNEARTHED ANOTHER ALLEGED MEETING BETWEEN Ó TUATHAIL AND VARADKAR (AND HARRIS) – IN THE ROYAL HOSPITAL KILMAINHAM, ON 17/18 AUGUST 2019].
2) Are you still claiming that you were in Barcelona at a time that proves you could not have had any particular one of the ten alleged encounters with Dr Ó Tuathail; and if so can you please say when in 2019 you were in Barcelona?
[IN HIS CRUCIAL RESPONSE TO THE MOTION OF CONFIDENCE IN HIM ON 10 NOVEMBER VARADKAR CLAIMED THAT MANY OF THE CLAIMS MADE ABOUT HIM “WERE TRUMPED UP OR MADE UP”. HE SAID VILLAGE’S ARTICLE “WAS JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF THIS.“IT ALLEGED TEN ENCOUNTERS, MANY OF WHICH SIMPLY DID NOT HAPPEN AND COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED AS I WAS IN BRUSSELS ON TWO OCCASIONS, BARCELONA ON ONE, OUT OF DUBLIN ON ANOTHER, OR DEMONSTRABLY DOING GOVERNMENT BUSINESS”.
THERE IS NO VERIFICATION HE WAS IN BARCELONA OR WITH WHOM HE WAS THERE, AND NO INDICATION BEING OUT OF DUBLIN OR ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS PRECLUDED MEETING Ó TUATHAIL WHO HAS SAID HIS MEETINGS WERE TYPICALLY VERY INFORMAL.
3) Can you please state whether Matt Barrett spoke to Dr Ó Tuathail on your behalf or otherwise, during the nine days you referred to in the Dáil, about the leak affair and/or its fallout; and whether during that period Mr Barrett spoke to Dr Ó Tuathail about the accuracy of the references to the encounters that were referred to in Village‘s statement, or about Dr Ó Tuathail denying them.
[VARADKAR POINTEDLY TOLD THE DÁIL DURING THE CONFIDENCE MOTION THAT HE HAD NOT SPOKEN TO DR Ó TUATHAIL IN NINE DAYS, AFTER HE UNDERSTANDABLY SPOKE TO HIM ON THREE OCCASIONS AFTER VILLAGE‘S STORY BROKE. THIS WOULD BE MEANINGLESS IF ANY ASSOCIATE HAD SPOKEN TO Ó TUATHAIL DURING THIS PERIOD. O’TUATHAIL IS A CLOSER FRIEND TO BARRETT THAN TO VARADKAR. SO SOME OF THE CLOSENESS OF VARADKAR’S FRIENDSHIP COMES VIA THEIR MUTUAL CONNECTION WITH BARRETT. THIS IS BECAUSE THE TWO WORKED TOGETHER IN ST VINCENT’S HOSPITAL AND WOULD GO FOR WEEKLY PINTS UNTIL THE PANDEMIC. IT IS ALSO THE CASE ACCORDING TO Ó TUATHAIL HIMSELF AND TO THE PROBING SUNDAY INDEPENDENT; AND INDEED IS SUGGESTED BY THE FACT THE ONLY PERSON MATT BARRETT FOLLOWED ON TWITTER WAS Ó TUATHAIL UNTIL VILLAGE’S STORY BROKE WHEN THE FOLLOW WAS TERMINATED – ONLY TO BE REINSTATED WHEN Ó TUATHAIL DISHONESTLY DISAVOWED HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH BOWES TO CONFIRM VARADKAR’S STORY; AND THAT BARRETT ISSUED A CONTEMPORANEOUS STATEMENT TO CHIME WITH Ó TUATHAIL’S STORY].
4) Can you please say if you forwarded the brochure and any other correspondence you received by WhatsApp or otherwise from Dr Ó Tuathail promoting Community Hospital Ireland, as opposed to Community Health Ireland, on a private account, to an official government account.
[ON 5 NOVEMBER THE TÁNAISTE TOLD THE DÁIL: “I DO NOT, AS STANDARD, KEEP ALL TEXT MESSAGES. I HAVE A PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS. ANYTHING ON THAT WHICH COULD CONSTITUTE A PUBLIC RECORD I THEN FORWARD TO MY OFFICIAL ACCOUNT BUT I DO NOT, AS STANDARD, KEEP TEXT MESSAGES”. CLEARLY ANY LOBBYING SUCH AS SENDING THE PROPOSAL FOR CHI BY PDF TO THE TAOISEACH CONSTITUTES A “PUBLIC RECORD”.
LOBBYING BY DR O’TUATHAIL IS NOT EXEMPT UNDER ANY OF THE HEADS IN THE REGULATION OF LOBBYING ACT 2015:
- Private affairs;
- Diplomatic relations;
- Published submissions;
- Trade union negotiations;
- Oireachtas committees;
- Communications by Designated Public Officials or public servants;
- Governance of Commercial State bodies;
- Policy working groups.
THIS IS A (VERIFIABLE) TEXT EXCHANGE BETWEEN VARADKAR AND Ó TUATHAIL SHOWING Ó TUATHAIL LOBBYING FOR COMMUNITY HOSPITAL IRELAND (CHI), AN INITIATIVE OF HIMSELF AND CHAY BOWES AND INCLUDING A PDF OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED CHI MODEL. CLEARLY VARADKAR HAS NO RECORD OF IT (HE’S EVEN WAFFLING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE CALLED COMMUNITY HEALTH IRELAND), IMPLYING HE DID NOT HAVE ANY PUBLIC RECORD OF IT SINCE, HAVING DELETED HIS PRIVATE TEXTS*, THAT IS THE ONLY PLACE IT COULD HAVE REMAINED. IF HE HAD DULY FORWARDED IT IT WOULD ALSO CORROBORATE THE LINE THE TÁNAISTE TOOK THAT HIS DEALINGS WITH THE NAGP PRESIDENT WERE OFFICIAL NOT SOCIAL.
- Note: The Tánaiste implied to the Dáil that he had deleted messages. An FoI request from The Irish Times yielded some of these exchanges but it is not clear whether they came from the private phone or some public source.
THIS IS A DEMONSTRABLE BREACH OF HIS COMMITMENT THAT “ANYTHING WHICH COULD CONSTITUTE A PUBLIC RECORD I THEN FORWARD TO MY OFFICIAL ACCOUNT”.
SOME ESTABLISHED MEDIA HAVE BEEN NOTABLY SQUEAMISH ABOUT PUBLISHING WHATSAPP EXCHANGES BETWEEN Ó TUATHAIL AND CHAY BOWES. THIS IS DESPITE THE FACT THE EXCHANGES HAVE BALANCE-OF-PROBABILITY PROBATIVE WEIGHT. FURTHERMORE THE CONTENT HAS IN THE END BEEN DENIED BY NOBODY.
HERE IS AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN VARADKAR HIMSELF AND Ó’TUATHAIL. IT’S TIME LEO VARADKAR WAS ASKED BY RTE, THE IRISH TIMES AND OTHERS WHAT HE DID WITH THE LOBBYINGS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE NAGP, AN ORGANISATION SOME OF WHOSE LEADERS MAY WELL SHORTLY BE PROSECUTED FOR FRAUD.
IT IS TIME THE MEDIA AND OPPOSITION HELD MR VARADKAR GENERALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS LIES.
READERS ARE INVITED TO SUGGEST TO THEIR TDS, WHO SEEM TO HAVE SEEN THIS LARGELY AS AN ISSUE OF BAD BEHAVIOUR, THAT THEY REFRAME THE ‘LEO LEAKS’ DEBACLE AS A RESIGNATION ISSUE CENTRED AS VILLAGE HAS ALWAYS SEEN IT AS ONE OF LAW-BREAKING (VILLAGE EDITOR, MICHAEL SMITH AND CHAY BOWES HAVE INITIATED A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT TO THE ANTI-CORRUPTION UNIT OF THE GARDA) AND THEN LYING TO THE DÁIL; AND ASK THE QUESTIONS WE ASK ABOVE IN A FORMAL SETTING. IF MR VARADKAR WILL NOT HIMSELF ANSWER THE QUESTIONS VILLAGE WILL BE ASKING REPRESENTATIVES TO REPLICATE THE SUBSTANCE OF OUR QUESTIONS IN THE DÁIL WHERE HE CAN BE MADE ACCOUNTABLE].
I would be grateful for a reply tomorrow 17 November to meet a deadline.
Editor, Village Magazine”.
Here are the questions I had asked the Tánaiste on 11 November 2020 – to which I did get a reply:
You referred in the Dáil on 10 November to the impossibility of your having had ten encounters in 2019 with Dr Matt Ó Tuathail. You said many of the encounters referred to at https://villagemagazine.ie/at-least-10-times-not-2-or-3/ were impossible. Can you please say how many, and which of them, you consider you have now shown – as opposed to just stated without evidence – did not happen. Can you kindly please give information
that shows you were in Barcelona at a time that proves you could not have had any particular one of the ten alleged encounters with Dr Ó Tuathail.
You also pointedly told the Dáil you had not spoken to Dr Ó ‘Tuathail in nine days, after you understandably spoke to him on three occasions after Village’s story broke. Can you please state whether Matt Barrett spoke to Dr Ó Tuathail on your behalf or otherwise about the leak affair and/or its fallout in that nine-day period.
Can you please say if you ever discussed Community Hospital Ireland with Dr Ó ‘Tuathail.
I would be grateful for a reply within 24 hours to meet a deadline”.
On Friday 13 November 2020 The Tánaiste’s spokesperson replied to those questions of 11 November as follows:
“The Tánaiste answered questions on these matters in two sittings and over five hours of Dáil debate.
In relation to Community Health Ireland, Dr. O’Toole sent a brochure to the Tánaiste in November 2018 for information and informed him that it was being piloted in co-operation with the HSE. The Tánaiste did not take any further action on the matter”.