Sunday 19 November 2017

Reilly attacks the media for 'focus on negativity'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has become the latest minister to criticise the media.

His comments come on the back of Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte's recent attack on media coverage of politics, in which he criticised it for "all-pervasive negativity" and for refusing to "give a damn" about the consequences of its reporting.

Dr Reilly, who has been at the centre of controversy for the past year over his personal finances, health budget cuts and the resignation of Junior Minister Roisin Shortall, issued his own criticism of the media.

"The media seems to be consumed with the negative, not just in health, but generally. It seems to believe that this is the headline that will sell more of its product. I don't believe that myself," he said.

But in his interview with a Sunday newspaper, Dr Reilly did not answer a question about how he would deal with the issue of becoming the first government minister to appear in 'Stubbs Gazette' over an unpaid nursing home debt.

He also avoided commenting on the controversy over the huge €9.5m pension package for the retired Irish Medical Organisation chief executive George McNeice – even though he served as its president in the past and was on its pay committee at the time the deal was agreed back in 2003.

"I don't intend to say anything until the investigation is completed but I fully intend to co-operate with it in any way I can," he said.

Dr Reilly defended the decision to hire 1,000 nurses on 80pc of the previous starting salary, in the face of opposition from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

"I regret the fact that the INMO has decided to take this approach, but so be it," he said.

Sinn Fein health spokesman Caoimhghin O Caolain criticised his plan to extend the reduced entry salary scheme.

"The boycott of the scheme has worked but rather than accept the scheme's failure, Mr Reilly shows his cavalier attitude and threatens to extend it to other workers in the health services," he said.

John Downing

Irish Independent

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