Monday 22 December 2014

‘Dr Reilly was at the cabinet table’ – Joan Burton rebukes Health minister’s claims on medical card rethink

Published 05/06/2014 | 10:48

Joan Burton, TD, Minister for social protection pictured at her offices overlooking The Customs House in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Joan Burton, TD, Minister for social protection pictured at her offices overlooking The Customs House in Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

MINISTER for Social Protection Joan Burton has said she ‘doesn’t understand’ Health Minister James Reilly’s claims that the ‘political will’ didn’t exist on medical card reform until last week.

This week the government have made a U-turn on the controversial issue of discretionary medical cards.

At a fiery Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night Dr Reilly said the will didn’t exist among his cabinet colleagues on reform until after the election results.

However this morning Joan Burton has said she ‘doesn’t understand’ his claims.

Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on Radio One, she said: “The Taoiseach was hands on in relation to the Department of Health. The department was in intensive discussion with the economic management council

“The political will was there on my part to transfer, willingly, significant amounts of money to his departments.

“I was happy to see it going to the Department of Health. I actually don’t agree with him - the desire has been there among the cabinet.

“I don’t really understand because Dr Reilly was at the cabinet table and he was a party to those discussions and obviously as the line Minister he would have to be responsible for his decision – but the cabinet collectively is also responsible.

She also said that she would not de-stabilise the coalition if elected Labour leader, and that she gets on with her cabinet colleagues.

“I have a very good working relationship with the Taoiseach. He has supported my drive to get people back to work, and I suspect we would work very well together if I’m elected as leader of the Labour Party

“They’re all still talking to me, and I’ve a good working relationship with everyone in the cabinet, and I intend to keep it like that.”

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