Thursday 21 November 2019

Reilly survives confidence vote as Shortall stays silent

The vote of no confidence in Dr Reilly was defeated by 99 votes to 50.
The vote of no confidence in Dr Reilly was defeated by 99 votes to 50.

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

LABOUR'S junior health minister Roisin Shortall last night failed to verbally express confidence in Health Minister James Reilly in a further sign of their poor working relationship.

It was in stark contrast to her fellow Labour junior minister for mental health, Kathleen Lynch, who said she had full confidence in him.

The vote of no confidence in Dr Reilly was defeated by 99 votes to 50.

Ms Shortall did, however, vote in support of Dr Reilly along with her Government colleagues.

But Labour TDs Tommy Broughan and Patrick Nulty, who have lost the party whip, and former Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten, who quit over Roscommon hospital downgrading, all voted against Dr Reilly.

Ms Shortall failed to mention Dr Reilly once by name in her Dail speech -- and instead ratcheted up the pressure on him to deliver health reforms.

"Unless there is substantial reform, there will be cuts and the poor will be the hardest-hit," she said.

As the junior minister for primary care, she criticised the failure to deliver 300 primary care staff who had been promised by Dr Reilly in his budget last December. And she said that the lack of priority given to legislation for free GP care for people with long-term illnesses was "very disappointing".

She even mentioned cuts in home helps -- which Dr Reilly has already implemented in recent weeks.

Endorsement

It led Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher to shout: "That's hardly a ringing endorsement."

But Ms Lynch praised Dr Reilly for bringing in reforms with a reduced health budget.

Dr Reilly also got better support from his government colleagues than on the first night of the no-confidence motion.

There were 53 Fine Gael TDs and ministers on the backbenchers, as well as 26 from Labour -- compared to just 22 the previous night. And the Government lined up heavy hitters like Finance Minister Michael Noonan to defend him.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny tried to improve the atmosphere in Dr Reilly's department by praising the work of Ms Shortall and Ms Lynch. "I have every confidence in the ability and the determination of the minister to see the reforms he has been tasked with to completion," he said.

And Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also stood up for Dr Reilly while simultaneously attacking the "sheer neck" of the 19 Fianna Fail TD who had submitted the no-confidence motion.

"The minister is dealing with the catastrophic mess left by Fianna Fail," Mr Gilmore said.

The Dail debate was also notable for a continuation of the bitter row between Fine Gael Roscommon-South Letrim TD Frank Feighan and Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

Mr Feighan said that his rival had labelled him a "traitor" and called on him to resign after the closure of Roscommon Hospital's 24-hour accident and emergency department last year.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News