independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Quinn 'never had issue' with Reilly over hospitals

Health Minister James Reilly and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn had a private chat yesterday about the fast-tracking of hospital projects – but there's no row.

The Government has been accused of using the HSE as "a slush fund" as Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the decision to fast-track hospital developments in the constituencies of two cabinet ministers.

He said the projects in Wexford and Kilkenny – the back yards of ministers Brendan Howlin and Phil Hogan – were planned for the past seven years.

Mr Kenny said the Wexford A&E unit was working out of a converted pharmacy and St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny from a pre-fab building.

"Any public representative will understand these are two major hospitals," he said.

He said the developments were first promised by the then FF-PD government in 2006.

"Both of these projects have languished on the national programme since then," he said.

FF health spokesman Billy Kelleher said it was taxpayers money and was not a slush fund to be used by the minister.

But Dr Reilly said the projects went ahead because of savings elsewhere and he was "delighted" to get the €12m in additional funding.

Brief

Mr Quinn had stated that he expected Dr Reilly to brief the Cabinet on the latest controversy to engulf the Health Minister.

The comment follows tensions between the pair last year when Mr Quinn refused to deny he said Dr Reilly was "not up to the job" and Labour cabinet ministers shared the concerns.

The matter did not come up at Cabinet and Dr Reilly did not brief his colleagues.

But he did have a private conversation with the Education Minister.

Mr Quinn's spokesperson said the minister had never questioned the viability of whether or not the developments should not have gone ahead.

"The minister is obviously satisfied with what Dr Reilly said to him. He never had an issue here," the spokesperson said.

Irish Independent

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