Monday 24 November 2014

Fionnan Sheahan: Another error by a bungling minister

Published 22/11/2012 | 05:00

Which is worse?

(A) Dr James Reilly didn't know about the presence of three consultants from Galway University Hospital on the team inquiring into the death of Savita Halappanavar?

(B) Dr James Reilly did know about the presence of three consultants from Galway University Hospital on the team inquiring into the death of Savita Halappanavar?

Either the line minister wasn't on top of his brief and involved in an important appointment or he was in the loop and he didn't see the looming problem in having three medics from the hospital where the death occurred on the investigation team.

Actually, to make matters even worse, it's not clear what Dr Reilly's level of knowledge was of the make-up of the inquiry team.

The argument put forward was it's normal to have a figure from the hospital, familiar with its operation, on an inquiry team. But three?

Dr Reilly dropped the ball – again – and the Cabinet had to clear up the mess the following day by swiftly removing those three members.

Yet another fine mess from Dr Reilly. His lack of political antennae was highlighted once more.

His colleagues in Government weren't surprised the Health Minister was at the centre of a debacle.

Labour Party figures have given up on him long ago, so this latest controversy won't change anybody's views.

Fine Gael backbenchers have privately expressed reservations about Dr Reilly being the minister in charge of the abortion issue. Given his handling of the Savita inquiry, it's doubtful those concerns will be allayed.

Dr Reilly has merely added yet another unsatisfactory debacle to his already lengthy CV.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore already have their advisers sitting in on even Dr Reilly's most mundane public appearances.

Keeping an ever closer eye on the Health Minister's activities is advisable.

Irish Independent

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