Saturday 24 February 2018

Varadkar on health ministry: 'I look at what Micheal Martin did and do the exact opposite'

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Arthur Carron
Leo Varadkar. Photo: Arthur Carron

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

LEO Varadkar has launched an attack on Micheál Martin saying that when he looks at what the Fianna Fail leader did as health minister "I do the exact opposite".

In his addressed to the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, Mr Varadkar warned of what he dubbed the "fantasy politics from the nightmare team of Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil".

And he told the audience there will "always be problems in health" but renewed a commitment to bring in universal healthcare, which has been delayed beyond the original target implementation date of 2019.

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Mr Varadkar attacked both main opposition parties claiming that if either are elected to government "there will be no recovery and no jobs, and because of that, there will be no money for health, education, childcare or anything else."

And his singled out Mr Martin who served as health minister in the early 2000s.

"Whenever I need some guidance about what to do in Health I just look back and read what Michéal Martin did when he was minister and the country had unlimited resources.

"And then I do the exact opposite."

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He said that the health service will always had problems but argued that "enormous progress" has been made pointing to a budget increase of €900m in two years and 1,000 more doctors since the government came into office.

On the government's plan for Universal Healthcare - the timetable for which was reigned in by Mr Varadkar when he took over health from his predecessor James Reilly - he said "we are more determined than ever to achieve it".

He said that if Fine Gael are returned to government, a second term would see free GP care would be extended to all children - not just under-6s, there would be a new focus on managing chronic disease in the community instead of hospitals and enhanced home care provision.

Mr Martin took to Twitter to respond to the health minister's "fantasy politics" remark.

"The greatest fantasy in health policy in recent times has been Universal Health Insurance abandoned by the govt after five years of pretence," he posted

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