Mr Varadkar’s statement provokes dramatically more questions than it answers.
The Tánaiste’s statement says “the ambit of the [Official Secrets} Act is limited to persons holding a public office”. It is a grotesque and unbecoming misconstruction for the Tánaiste to so cynically and brazenly – presumably following days of legal advice – misinterpret the Official Secrets Act which of course applies to Ministers, Taoisigh indeed to EVERYONE. It says at Section 4.—(1) “A person shall not communicate any official information to any other person UNLESS he is duly authorised to do so or does so in the course of and in accordance with his duties as the holder of a public office or when it is his duty in the interest of the State to communicate it”.
The rule applies to PERSONS – all persons including Oireachtas members. Everybody knows that. The EXCEPTION to the rule is for holders of public office (from which Ministers and Taoisigh are excluded – so excluding Mr Varadkar from the exception not the rule).
Mr Varadkar’s statement giving the timeline intended to show whether the document was confidential when forwarded is inaccurate and is contradicted by for example by the statement of Stephen Donnelly – main Opposition Health Spokesperson – in the Dáil on 16 April that at that date “we have been denied access to any of the detail of the agreement” https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2019-04-16/32/
It also fails to reflect the fact that members of the NAGP `s council, who could have been expected to be fully on top of how much they knew of what had been agreed – as extensively shown by WhatsApp exchanges exhibited in the https://twitter.comVillage article, regarded the forwarding of the document marked “confidential” to them as `’the real deal” – asking “where did you rob it?”. O’Tuathail expressly told them “please say nothing and KEEP this confidential” [emphasis added] -. “must not leak”. Another message from the NAGP’s chairman as late as 18th April, says “remember IMO GPs are not seeing the contract document… just what the IMO are telling them”.
Why did Mr Varadkar not remove the first page saying “confidential” and replace it with a blank page if by then the document was no longer confidential?
As outlined in the magazine, there is a breach of the codes of conduct for Dáil Members and Ministers.
There may also as shown in the piece be a breach of the Corruption Act if Mr O’Tuathail’s slavish subsequent championing of Mr Varadkar in the media is deemed to be a quid pro quo.