Shortall's email address error blamed for ministerial spat
Published 30/01/2012 | 05:00
IT seems even ministers can make simple mistakes when sitting in front of a computer.
Health Minister James Reilly said a spat between him and Roisin Shortall, the junior health minister, was all due to emails being sent to the wrong address.
Ms Shortall wrote to Dr Reilly late last year complaining that she had been kept out of the loop on cuts to GP flu vaccine fees, saying it was "completely unacceptable". But Dr Reilly said Ms Shortall accidentally sent emails, in which she tried to contact him, to the wrong place.
The Dublin North TD also said that both he and Ms Shortall, who has responsibility for primary care, "work very hard together".
Ms Shortall emailed Dr Reilly on October 21 last and said he refused four requests to speak to her about fees to be set for GPs administering the winter flu vaccine.
"I have tried to speak with you personally on several occasions over the past 48 hours," Ms Shortall wrote. "You refused each of these requests. You did arrange to speak with me by telephone this morning at 10am but I received no call.
"I have also over that time been endeavouring to speak with the secretary general and in spite of leaving messages with his office and emailing him, I have not had the courtesy of a reply."
But in an interview with the Irish Independent, Dr Reilly said the incident was down to miscommunication and wrongly directed emails.
"It was very simple," he said. "Four of them went to the wrong address so I didn't know about them so she clearly got frustrated and annoyed and sent the other email then and, fine, it was picked up on FOI but that was simply the matter of a phone call. We work very hard together. We're both strong- willed people so we'll always have different ideas.
"That was all resolved a long, long time ago. And I was very grateful for her support during the budgetary process. When I went to the Labour Party backbenchers to talk to them, I described what was coming down the line as possibly having catastrophic consequences. She backed me up and said it could be a disaster."