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Outcome must be seen as flawless

DR JAMES Reilly's messing over the primary care centres has caused lasting damage to his reputation among the public and inside the Government.

The Health Minister's standing was already dented following a series of controversies over his personal finances and HSE cutbacks.

The revelations of the addition of two locations in Dr Reilly's constituency to the primary care list merely added to the sense he was not a safe pair of hands.

Following the resignation of former junior health minister Roisin Shortall, his ability to stay in office was thanks to the Labour Party declining to move on him.

Dr Reilly appeared to be accidentally going out of his way to antagonise his coalition partners.

Aside from his personality and policy clash with Ms Shortall, he failed to shut down the controversy and then provided inaccurate information to Ruairi Quinn as he faced questions in the Dail -- a cardinal sin for a minister.

Putting the interests of coalition harmony first, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore stood by him but came under intense questioning over the criteria used by Dr Reilly to select the primary care centres.

Ultimately, Mr Gilmore was forced to admit he hadn't viewed the specific rationales employed behind the selection of each primary care centre.

He had relied upon the information brought to the Cabinet by Dr Reilly.

The Tanaiste won't be making that mistake again.

The biggest capital project to be undertaken by this Government will be the national children's hospital. The project is already highly sensitive and overshadowed by controversy over the original selection of the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

The location in the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who was in power when the decision was taken, led to accusations of a stroke.

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The new decision on the location will have to flawless.

Dr Reilly has the advice of the Dolphin Group, which examined each prospective location.

But Mr Gilmore isn't going to leave this decision in the hands of the most accident-prone minister in the Cabinet.

After past experience, who can blame him?

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