'We have to listen to the people' – Minister
Minister Reilly, who attended the re-count of the Swords Ward at Sluagh Hall last Sunday, told the Fingal Independent that there is a clear swing against the Government.
'The people are very tired,' said Minister Reilly. 'They have had six years of cuts since this Government came in and we have had to make hard decisions.
'The people asked us to do a job. We've done the job but we never said they would like us or the way we are doing this job. And in fairness, I think this is reflective and as a Government we have to listen now and hear the people and re-double our efforts to ensure people get some relief in terms of income and those who are vulnerable and in need get the services that they need.'
He expressed his disappointment that Balbriggan Fine Gael candidate and his former parliamentary assistant Tom O'Leary lost his seat in the Balbriggan ward but expressed his delight that Fine Gael's second candidate John Paul Browne was elected.
'I am disappointed for Tom O'Leary but then John Paul Browne got the seat so there's no net loss there,' said the Dublin North TD. 'We went in with two candidates in Malahide/Howth area and came back with two seats there.'
Fine Gael have no elected candidates in the Swords ward with Bob Dowling being eliminated from the race in the 17th count.
In total Fine Gael managed to get six seats on the council with Anthony Lavin and Keith Redmond elected in the Malahide/Howth area, Kieran Dennison in Mulhuddart, Ted Leddy and Eithne Loftus in Castleknock and JP Browne in Balbriggan.
'By no means is it a good day for the Government and I think we need to make it very clear that we have heard the people and that we will re-double our effort to ensure we can give some relief by way of income and also to ensure those in need have the services they need,' said Minister Reilly.
In relation to medical cards he said nobody ever intended the situation to be what it has become.
'What we were seeking to do was to bring some transparency and fairness to the system,' said Minister Reilly.
'If you are in Meath you are 70% less likely than the national average to get a discretionary medical card and if you are in Cork you are 70% more likely. That's not a fair system,' he explained. 'I certainly don't, as a Minister and a doctor, stand over a situation where medical cards are taken off people with Down Syndrome or Multi Sclerosis or Motor Neuron disease.
He said the Government had discussed the issued, 'and we will have further discussions to address this issue as expeditiously as possible. To have done something before the election would have only been seen to try and win the election.
'And that's not what it's about – it's about fixing something that's wrong,' he said.