Tuesday 19 November 2019

Varadkar 'more focused on photo opportunities than long term healthcare plan' - Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Thousands of Fianna Fail members gather for the 76th FF Ard Fheis at the RDS. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.
Thousands of Fianna Fail members gather for the 76th FF Ard Fheis at the RDS. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

Niall O'Connor

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is more focused on photo opportunities than developing a long term plan for the health system, according to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

Mr Martin tonight launched a strong attack on Mr Varadkar, accusing the Dublin West TD of failing to address morale among health workers.

“First of all they said things were getting better. They then blamed James Reilly. Then Enda Kenny said he was taking personal charge of Health. When that didn’t work they blamed James Reilly again and fired him,” he said.

“Now they’ve put a new face in who is available to discuss anything but a long-term plan for the health services. The more he gets challenged the more political he’s getting and the more photo opportunities he schedules,” he added.

Mr Martin made the remarks as he opened Fianna Fail’s 76th Ard Fheis in the RDS.

The issue of healthcare took up a large portion of his opening speech.

Reacting to the criticism tonight, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said Fianna Fail’s health policy promises no reform.

“That’s an odd analysis. Our long term plan on universal health care will see the first concrete steps this Summer with GP care without fees for the youngest and the oldest, and better chronic disease care,” he told Independent.ie.

“Fianna Fail’s health policy wants to keep to a flawed system, exactly as it is, and pour more money in from higher tax. It’s the same old Fianna Fail. Tax and spend. No reform.”

This weekend’s Ard Fheis is particularly important for the party given the level of infighting and internal criticism in recent weeks.

At an earlier press conference, Mr Martin was asked if this could be his last Ard Fheis as leader. He laughed and said: "Certainly not, How dare you? That's very cheeky."

In his Ard Fheis speech, Mr Martin said the party will publish policies on housing, social welfare and SMEs in the coming weeks.

And he said the party will be ready for a General Election once it is called.

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