Thursday 27 November 2014

No more 'unintended consequences' as Enda faces hard road ahead

Published 18/06/2014 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

The Taoiseach is reputed to be in bad form. Enda Kenny has had a run of misfortunes over the past seven months and there's no sign he's going to catch a break anytime soon.

Launching a comeback from the local elections, the Cabinet reshuffle and building a relationship with the new Labour Party leadership regime lies ahead.

The looming decisions are weighing very heavily on him and are beginning to show. It's not as if the Taoiseach can turn to his deputy leader in Fine Gael for some support.

Dr James Reilly has been more trouble than he's worth over the past three years.

The latest catastrophe around the medical cards was a major factor in the local elections' drubbing for Fine Gael and Labour.

Yesterday, the Health Minister announced a climbdown on the medical cards controversy. Around 15,300 people who were stripped of their cards will have their entitlements restored over the next weeks.

Dr Reilly was flanked only by his officials as he made the announcement.

No Taoiseach, no Tanaiste, no junior ministers, no backbenchers. Just Reilly.

He had the good sense to apologise for the "unintended consequence" of people suffering from his handling of the affair.

The perceived wisdom is Dr Reilly cannot survive the reshuffle in his current position. His status as deputy leader of Fine Gael possibly means he'll have to be retained in Cabinet. But keeping him as Health Minister would be an enormous gamble.

The Health Minister acknowledged it was up to the Taoiseach to decide what to do with him.

"My fate as a Minister of Health or any ministry is in the gift of the Taoiseach. He has to do what he feels is the right thing," he said.

The right thing would be to shore up an area that has proven troublesome.

Coming into the run-in to the next general election, Mr Kenny can't afford any more "unintended consequences" from the Health Minister.

Irish Independent

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