Taoiseach proposes motion of confidence in Leo Varadkar 

Taoiseach proposes motion of confidence in Leo Varadkar 

The Taoiseach has this evening proposed a motion of confidence in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach has proposed a motion of confidence in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Speaking in the Dáil, Micheál Martin said: "I propose the motion that Dail Eireann has confidence in the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD. The decision by Sinn Féin to table a motion of no-confidence was based on that party's hope that something would turn up that would help them use today for an aggressive political attack on the Government. It was a 100% cynical move."

He added: "They've been left scrambling by the reality that nothing significantly has changed since last week's two-hour session."

Micheál Martin said the giving of a "nearly completed contract" for general practitioners to a rival doctors' organisation was a "legitimate point of public concern" and one that TDs had "the right" to ask questions about.

"It was inappropriate and it should not have happened," he told the Dáil.

"When the Tanaiste informed me of the issue he outlined the details of what happened and these details have remained consistent subsequently."

The Fianna Fail leader said Leo Varadkar also accepted without any issue that he needed to come before the Dáil to explain himself.

"Nobody has demonstrated any personal gain from how the document was distributed and public policy was not adversely impacted," the Taoiseach said.

"The Tánaiste has acknowledged his error and all details have been published," he added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney claimed Sinn Fein's no-confidence motion in the Tánaiste was a "political smear campaign" that was "masquerading as whistleblowing".

Leo Varadkar is someone he has "grown to know well and trust" and the motion was put forward by Sinn Féin to "capitalise on a mistake made by the Tánaiste", he said.

He said Mr Varadkar's "motivation" was well-meaning but he did "take a short cut".

"He should not have mailed the document to the NAGP president. He should instead have had them briefed officially," Mr Coveney said.

He added: "It is obvious now that for some what is ongoing is not about establishing facts or truth, but about sustaining a political smear campaign masquerading as whistleblowing to inflict maximum political damage."

Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of "incompetence and chaos" and told the Dáil that the "refusal" of the current Taoiseach to hold the Tánaiste to account had left a no-confidence motion "as the only sanction available to us as an opposition".

The Sinn Féin leader said the Government had responded with "name-calling and spin" but no amount of "mudslinging by Fine Gael can alter the facts".

"While he was Taoiseach he leaked confidential Government information to his friend," she said.

"He can offer no credible reason for his actions. His claim that he was acting in the interest of the taxpayer or the info was already in the public domain were thread-bare.

"Those defences collapsed on the floor of the Dáil last week. The truth is there is no acceptable reason for what happened."

Ms McDonald added it was a "conscious decision".

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