An interesting, but ultimately certain to be futile, move:
NEW: Sinn Féin have put down a motion of no confidence in Leo Varadkar over the leak controversy. Will be debated next week
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) November 6, 2020
With all the noise around the US election, the Varadkar/Maitiu O’Tuathail scandal has sort of faded from the headlines. But that doesn’t mean that opposition politicians are dropping it. A Press Release in from Aontú yesterday announced that the party had formally invited O’Tuathail to appear before a Dáil committee to answer some questions:
Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has formally asked Dr Maitiu Ó’Tuathail to appear before a Dáil Committee to give testimony surrounding the leaking of the IMO contract by Leo Varadkar. An Teachta Tóibín has written to both Dr Ó’Tuathail and the Cathaoirleach of the Health Committee to facilitate this happening.
“Given the public interest importance of this crisis its important that Ó Tuathail details what exactly happened. Given that the Contract is a matter of Government Health Policy I have formally asked the Cathaoirleach of the Health Committee with the agreement of the members of the Committee to facilitate a question and answer session with Dr Ó Tuathail as soon as is possible. I have also formally requested that Dr Ó Tuathail make himself available to an Oireachtas Committee in order for the truth of the leaked confidential document to come to light”.
The good doctor cannot be compelled to attend, of course, and it is highly unlikely that he will. But his refusal will probably add to the perception that something is being hidden in this whole melee.
Anyway, the whole point of Sinn Fein’s motion of no confidence isn’t to get rid of Varadkar. They have no chance of winning the vote. The point of it is to make Fianna Fáil and Green TDs take a difficult vote in support of a Tánaiste for whom they have no great love, and on an issue where their own voters would quite like them, in most cases, to vote the other way.
The objective, in other words, is to win Sinn Fein a talking point about how the Greens have become poodles and caved again. It’ll probably work.
But in political terms, Varadkar is likely out of the woods. There simply has been no smoking gun to this scandal – no evidence provided that anybody was inappropriately advantaged, at least in financial terms, by his actions.
It is, however, deeply embarrassing, and the “Leo the Leak” moniker will probably stick. The next time something confidential leaks from cabinet, you can be sure where the finger will be pointed – fairly, or not.