Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has said that the Tánaiste’s action in leaking a confidential document was unworthy of his office, and his handling of the incident was unacceptable.

Speaking during the confidence motion in the Dáil, Deputy Shortall said:

“The situation we are dealing with here should never have arisen. The Tánaiste, while Taoiseach last year, engaged in an action which was wrong. He was found out and had no choice but to own up. He should have admitted that it was wrong and apologised.

“However, he never admitted it was wrong. Instead, he concocted a false narrative; a cock and bull story which was patently untrue and which clearly misrepresented the truth on a number of counts.”

Deputy Shortall laid out seven grounds in support of the Social Democrats’ position:

•       The Tánaiste leaked a confidential document, which had not been signed off when it was leaked.

•       There is no basis to the claim that the Tánaiste had a “legitimate objective”, or that he was “honouring” the Government commitment.

•       We know that the NAGP’s intention was to scupper the IMO and upstage the IMO on the eve of their AGM by releasing details of the document.

•       If there was any truth in what the Tánaiste claimed, surely he would have urged Dr Ó Tuathail and the NAGP to support and promote the agreement but there is no evidence at all that he did this.

•       It’s not that the Tánaiste didn’t know the rules – he referred to them in response to the raising of the serious matter relating to premature deaths in the air corps. It was he who decided not to abide by them in respect of the IMO document.

•       He knew he was bound by the Office Holders’ Code of Conduct, which states: “Office Holders should respect confidences entrusted to them in the course of their official duties”. The Tánaiste clearly breached this requirement.

•       The Tánaiste, as leader of Fine Gael, required his Cabinet colleagues to demean themselves by parroting the cynically crafted spin lines, repeating his untrue narrative.

November 10, 2020

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