Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is expected to survive a motion of no confidence in the Dail this evening over his leaking of a confidential GP contract to a rival union.
One of the strongest critics of the Tanaiste — and of Taoiseach Michael Martin who has defended him — has been Sligo/Leitrim Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry.
Deputy MacSharry has said he was ‘beyond disgust’ at the Taoiseach’s defence of Leo Varadkar, whom he described as ‘the sacred cow’.
He said that the Tánaiste had “constructed a fairytale narrative” around his motivations for leaking the document to the National Association of General Practitioners.
Deputy MacSharry says Mr Varadkar was being treated differently to other politicians because of who he is, recalling that former Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan had to resign 20 years ago after he leaked a budget document.
However, Fianna Fail Minister Michael McGrath says internal party bickering hurts the party’s prospects and has urged TDs to get behind the Taoiseach.
How Deputy MacSharry votes on the issue in the Dail this evening remains to be seen but it is believed he will vote with his Fianna Fail party and the government in opposing the motion of no confidence in Mr Varadkar, despite his earlier stringent criticisms.
Other opposition parties will back the Sinn Fein no-confidence motion – including Labour, the Social Democrats and Solidarity People Before Profit.
Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has criticised Sinn Féin for bringing the motion:
The government will also table a counter motion expressing confidence in the Tanaiste, a move aimed at encouraging those who have concerns to toe the party line.
In the meantime, Donegal Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty says deputies have a big decision to make this evening:
In a statement issued to Ocean FM News this (Tuesday) evening, Deputy MacSharry said he stands by his comments of last week on RTÉ on the Varadkar issue and Micheal Martin’s handling of it.
He added: ‘Like de Valera’s relationship with the oath of allegiance, tonight’s vote is an empty formula but a necessary one at this time.”
It’s understood that if Deputy MacSharry were to vote in favour of the no confidence motion, it would result in a loss of membership of the parliamentary party, the public accounts committee and loss of speaking rights in the Dail under current house rules.
With this in mind, Deput MacSharry has asked why he should be the only casualty in what he describes as ‘this scandal.’