Monday 16 October 2017

Reilly told: end Shortall row and focus on job

James Reilly. Photo: Collins
James Reilly. Photo: Collins

Fionnan Sheahan and Michael Brennan

Health Minister James Reilly was urged last night to sort out his differences with junior minister Roisin Shortall in order to focus solely on the chaos in the health service.

And Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was forced to express confidence in Fine Gael's Dr Reilly after his Labour Party colleague Ms Shortall refused to do so.

In an escalation of their long-running spat, Junior Health Minister Ms Shortall refused to express confidence in Dr Reilly in the wake of the HSE resignation affair.

Ms Shortall was angry last week when she learned of HSE chief executive Cathal Magee's resignation through the media, rather than being told by Dr Reilly. Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was also kept in the dark about the resignation by Dr Reilly.

The ongoing row resulted in Mr Quinn being asked if he had confidence in the health minister. "I have confidence in every minister in the Cabinet," he said yesterday.

But Ms Shortall repeatedly refused to express confidence in Dr Reilly when asked.

"We need to work through the policy in relation to the future of the health service and agree the policy," she said on radio station Newstalk.

"We need to ensure we have a strong public health service that will serve the patients into the future. That's what we have to concentrate on now."

Worrying

Fianna Fail said it was clear there were policy differences between the pair that needed to be sorted out. The party's health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the growing gulf between the ministers was extremely worrying given the chaos in the health service at the moment.

Mr Kelleher said there was a projected health budget overrun of up to €500m this year, a health authority with no one at the helm and a minister in charge "who doesn't even have the full confidence of his junior ministers".

"We cannot allow a situation where a senior minister overseeing such a crucial public service makes unilateral decisions and keeps colleagues with key areas of responsibility completely in the dark. The ministers must meet as a matter of urgency, sort out their differences once and for all and start focusing on delivering better outcomes for patients," he added.

Irish Independent

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