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Wednesday 23 October 2019

Reilly 'ignoring Shortall's calls' in health spat

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

HEALTH Minister James Reilly is sometimes not even speaking with his junior minister Roisin Shortall, with the pair reduced to communicating via email.

Ms Shortall had to email Dr Reilly recently to complain that her repeated requests to speak to him on the phone were ignored.

The latest evidence of the fiery relationship between the senior Fine Gael minister and the Labour Party minister of state in the Department of Health emerged yesterday.

Ms Shortall wrote to Dr Reilly complaining about his failure to return her calls several times on an issue that related to her area of responsibility for primary care.

The spat follows Ms Shortall's criticism last month of kite-flying about health cuts.

Dr Reilly heightened public fears before the Budget with his pre-Budget doomsday list of potential cuts. The minister warned of a €50 medical card tax, a hike in prescription charges and widespread closure of hospitals -- none of which happened.


Ms Shortall expressed her dissatisfaction with the "alarm and concern among older people" caused by speculation.

She was later forced to deny this was an attack on Dr Reilly.

Prior to the Budget controversy, the pair also clashed over fees for GPs administering the winter flu vaccine. Dr Reilly slashed the fee for family doctors involved in the vaccination campaign by a third, from €42 to €28.

But Ms Shortall was left out of the loop, even though GP care is part of her job.

She wrote to Dr Reilly to "express entire dissatisfaction" with the way the issue was handled and how it was "completely unacceptable" for her to be excluded.

"I have tried to speak with you personally on several occasions over the past 48 hours. You refused each of these requests. You did arrange to speak with me by telephone this morning at 10am but I received no call.

"I have also over that time been endeavouring to speak with the secretary general and in spite of leaving messages with his office and emailing him, I have not had the courtesy of a reply," she wrote.

Dr Reilly wrote back saying there was a misunderstanding about who was to make the call.

Irish Independent

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