Saturday 22 October 2016

Kenny defends Varadkar's claim that 'heads will roll' if trolley crisis continues

Niall O’Connor and Daniel McConnell

Published 29/09/2015 | 16:58

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has defended his Health Minister Leo Varadkar after he told health officials that a senior public servant would have to be sacked unless the trolley crisis is resolved.

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Mr Kenny said Mr Varadkar is perfectly entitled to demand “accountability for the taxpayer” and ensure senior Health officials “step up and take responsibility” for the state of the health service.

It emerged today that Mr Varadkar told officials that a “head” would have to “roll” unless the crisis is sorted out.

In an email sent three weeks ago, details of which were published in The Irish Times, Mr Varadkar expressed deep concern about trolley numbers as winter approaches.

“I have no reason to believe it won’t be worse than last year and that really means a head or heads will have to roll,” he wrote.

“The people or Dáil or Taoiseach can take mine in the election or thereafter but we’ll need an official/executive head to roll before that or there is no accountability,” he added.

Mr Varadkar’s email to health officials was raised during ‘Leaders’ Questions’ by Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin.

Mr Martin accused Mr Varadkar of engaging in “appalling cynicism” and alleged that the email was leaked to the media.

In response, the Taoiseach said it is incumbent on ministers to state when they are “not happy about how things are being run” within their departments.

“What I see here is for the first time a minister for health saying we’ve got to have accountability for the taxpayer,” Mr Kenny told the Dáil.

“Minister Varadkar is quite entitled to say I’m not a happy minister,” he added.

Mr Kenny also launched a staunch attack on Mr Martin and Fianna Fáil.

He said Mr Martin is a “champion of false anger” and that his party has failed to put together a credible proposal in four and a half years, bar a few exceptions.

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