Monday 18 December 2017

'Put your egos to one side' - Newly-appointed Health Minister Simon Harris' first intervention

Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Tom Burke
Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Newly-appointed Health Minister Simon Harris has warned those involved in the row over the new national maternity hospital to "put their egos to one side".

In his first intervention since being appointed to Cabinet, the Wicklow/East Carlow TD said he will not allow differences over governance stand in the way of the new facility.

Management at St Vincent's and Holles Street are at odds over the €150m planned relocation of the maternity hospital to a new site in the city.

In hard hitting remarks today, Mr Harris demanded that all sites "sort out" their differences.

"My message very clearly to anyone involved in this row that I am reading about in the papers, put your egos to one side, get in a room and sort this out," Mr Harris told his local radio station East Coast FM.

“This cannot be tied up in bureaucracy.

“What I will not do is allow the possibility of delivering a new maternity hospital to be jeopardised by rows over governance and fiefdom," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Harris said he is well aware of the serious challenges facing him as minister.

He said he was surprised to have been appointed to the position by Taoiseach Enda Kenny - but said he now expects to be held to account.

“I expect to be held to account by the Dáil, I expect to be questioned, I expect to be put under pressure," the 29-year-old told the 'Wicklow This Week' programme.

“I expect to be an accountable Minister for Health.

“We need a political consensus around health, we need all of our politicians to come together. Lets accept that getting the health service right is one of the greatest societal challenges this country faces and let’s get all our politicians to get together and try and come up with a plan.”

Mr Harris also rejected suggestions Leo Varadkar, his predecessor, was demoted.

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