Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail has said that "all GPs had a right" to access information on a programme for chronic disease management which is at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Tánaiste.
In a statement, the former President of the now-defunct National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) said it was "wrong for one group of GPs to have access" to information on the programme while others did not.
Leo Varadkar is expected to face sustained questioning before the Dáil this week after a magazine article reported that he passed on the details of an Irish Medical Organisation agreement on GP contractual reforms to the NAGP.
He admitted that he provided a copy of the IMO contract to Dr Ó Tuathail and added that communicating the contract agreement "was not best practice".
However, he maintains that there was nothing unlawful about sharing this information, despite questions from the opposition about the timeline of events.
Dr Ó Tuathail said this evening that " all GPs had a right to understand what the programme entailed, and what would be required of them”, not just the IMO members.
He said: “The National Association of General Practitioners was involved in extensive consultations with the Department of Health and the HSE on the programme for chronic disease management throughout 2018.
"The NAGP was a trade union with a full negotiating licence.
“This involved monthly meetings with both the Department of Health and the HSE which were formative in the development of the programme for chronic disease management.
“Arising from these talks, which went on for two years, the association was aware of the main content of the proposed new contract being sought by the State.
“We received a copy of the finalised, agreed and announced programme for chronic disease management from the then Taoiseach in mid-April.
"This was seen as a continuation of the decision by the Government to consult with the NAGP and its GP members and keep them informed throughout."
He added: “We could not adopt a position on the programme for chronic disease management as a union, without full access to the details that it contained.
“It was wrong for one group of GPs to have access to the details of a chronic disease management programme, and for another group of GPs not to have equal access to that information, given that the NAGP and its members were involved in its formation.
“The programme for chronic disease management was to be rolled out to all GPs, and therefore all GPs had a right to understand what the programme entailed, and what would be required of them.”
Earlier today, a Fine Gael junior minister has admitted that Mr Varadkar could have "done better" in communicating the details of the agreement to the NAGP.
Fine Gael Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Colm Brophy admitted that the lines of communication were not best practice.
Main image: File photo of Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail. Credit: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews