News that Leo Varadkar leaked a confidential document about a € 210 million GP collective agreement, as well as the strongly denied allegation that he was doing it against the law, surfaced in Saturday’s issue of Village Magazine.
The publication was formerly owned by journalist Vincent Browne before it was acquired by one of his first associates, Attorney Michael Smith, who has run the magazine from his Ormond Quay office since the late 2000s.
Mr Smith first came to prominence in 1995 when he, along with his counterpart (and now Judge of the EU Court of Justice) Colm Mac Eochaidh, offered a £ 10,000 reward for information about planning irregularities that ultimately led to the establishment of the Flood Court.
Since then, it has painted itself as an advocate of unloved stories from outside the mainstream and contrary, sometimes marginal, views. Mr Smith says it “aims to challenge but also has an open ideology”.
“All media have tacit or covert ideologies, but we are explicitly informed about them and a campaign magazine that is characterized by equality of results, sustainability and accountability.”
He says it is an ideology that is only applied “after we have established the facts”.
Like many publishers, it found itself at the wrong end of the High Court trial, including former Gate Theater director Michael Colgan and right-wing activist Gemma O’Doherty.
Ms. O’Doherty previously contributed to the magazine, although Mr. Smith said Village did not allow her at the time to air an ideology or to know what her ideology was. He later published articles strongly criticizing her, which led to the High Court’s action.
The Varadkar story emerged from documents provided by a healthcare entrepreneur and corporate problem solver named Chay Bowes – mostly screenshots of textual conversations allegedly involving Mr Bowes, former president of the Maitiú National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) Ó Tuathail and other senior members of this group were involved.
These textual conversations included images of the leaked document and messages that apparently took place between Mr. Ó Tuathail and the Tánaiste, as well as messages from Mr. Ó Tuathail characterizing his relationship with the leader of Fine Gael.
Mr. Bowes, formerly a member of the Army Medical Corps, started a company called Tara Healthcare, which provided HSE-funded home health treatments for a period before being sold to the VHI. The NAGP had submitted a report on finances governance and operations. The NAGP collapsed into disorder and liquidation on accusations last summer.
Paddy Cosgrave, organizer of the Web Summit, introduced Village Magazine to Mr. Bowes, Mr. Smith said. “[Mr Cosgrave] recommended Chay come to Village with roughly the story published. He said we would be a good home for this story; We can treat stories differently and work with people who want to expose scandals. ”
Mr. Cosgrave, who has loudly criticized the government and the political system, has also settled a Supreme Court complaint brought by Mr. Ó’Tuathail – who received the leak from Mr. Varadkar – earlier this year. Mr. Cosgrave also gave “strategic advice” on the item, Mr. Smith said. When asked for a comment, Mr Cosgrave responded with a zipped mouth emoji. When given details of his alleged involvement, he responded with a “thumbs up” emoji.
Mr. Smith said he had “more information” about the Varadkar story. When asked for details, he said the magazine “is going through a number of correspondence that Chay has received, mainly from Maitiú Ó Tuathail”.
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