Sunday 16 December 2018

The Floating Voter: Minister criticised for opening playground during key negotiations

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Arthur Carron
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Arthur Carron
Fianna Fáil's spokesman on health, Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Tony Gavin
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Health Minister Simon Harris has been criticised for opening a playground in his constituency at the height of budget negotiations on the massive overspend in his department.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said he was “very annoyed” when he learned the minister was opening a new playground as the Government grappled with the €700m black hole in the health budget.

Speaking on Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast, Mr Donnelly said it “really bothered” him that Mr Harris attended the event in the constituency of Wicklow which they both share.

“The Budget was on the Tuesday (and) on the Monday the Health budget was still in play. DPER (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) were still trying to find out how it was going to be accounted for,” he said.

“Fianna Fail’s team was still trying to negotiate….and it turns out the minister was opening a playground in Greystones and then went for lunch with everybody.

“When the system is so bad I was very annoyed when someone was coming into to announce €700m or €800m overrun that they would be opening playgrounds the day before. This is all hands on deck,” he added.

Mr Donnelly also said the last three Fine Gael health ministers “made an absolute bags” of the health service. “They were not on top of the detail, I don’t believe the current Health Minister is on top of the detail,” he added.

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