Monday 20 November 2017

Alex White: I have full confidence in Health Minister James Reilly

Promise: Junior Minister Alex White
Promise: Junior Minister Alex White
Dr James Reilly

Sam Griffin

JUNIOR Health Minister Alex White has said he has full confidence in Minister James Reilly despite growing calls within the Minister's own party for him to be removed.

Dr Reilly reportedly told Fine Gael party members there had been "no political will" at cabinet level to sort out the medical card crisis - comments viewed as s criticism of the Labour Party.

However Mr White, contesting the leadership of the Labour party, said there were no issues with the coalition partners and added Dr Reilly has his full support.

"I don't see it as a Fine Gael Labour issue in that sense. I think all of the government has responsibility for everything the government does.

He added: "The problems  of the health services can't be laid at the door of one man or at the door of one department. It's a big imperative for the entire government to ensure that there is sufficient funding to run a modern health service.

"All decisions are made in cabinet at budget time and the consequences of some of those decisions weren't sufficiently well assessed ay the time by government or by any of us. I think we all have to take a share of the blame for what has happened.

He also revealed he spoke with the minister yesterday but said he "didn't know" when he would make a public statement in the matter.

He also indicated there would be no more cuts to health expenditure.

He said the consequences of cuts to medical cards were as a result of "budgetary decisions and cuts in health expenditure and it says to me that if we needed any proof, this is another example of the fact that we really have reached the end of the line in terms of cuts in health services".

Speaking at the opening of a new primary care centre in Summerhill in Co Meath, he said criminal proceedings should be launched into the discovery of bodies of children in Tuam Co Galway, who died in homes run by religious orders if deemed appropriate by gardai.

"As minister Howlin said in the Dail this morning,  we have to do absolutely everything that we can conceivably do to establish what happened and take any action that can be taken at this remove I suppose and that would be anything up to and including criminal proceedings were the prosecuting authorities to determine that that was appropriate."

"It's something that happened in a different time but that doesn't make it any less shocking."

He also said he was "very confident" he would defeat Joan Burton to take the Labour Party leadership.

Irish Independent

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