Wednesday 17 January 2018

Response by Reilly to SF query 'oozes contempt'

James Reilly
James Reilly

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

HEALTH Minister James Reilly is facing a further complaint about failing to answer a question about his controversial choice of primary care centres.

It is the latest twist in the long-running saga over his decision to increase the number of centres from 20 to 35 -- which led to the resignation of junior minister for primary care Roisin Shortall.

Dr Reilly had been asked to explain the "exact criteria" for selecting the 35 locations -- which included two in his own Dublin North constituency.

But Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett ruled that his first answer to the question by Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain was "inadequate" -- and orderd him to issue a new one.

But Mr O Caolain said he was not satisfied with the new response from Dr Reilly, which contains a list of the locations of the 35 primary care centres and very little additional detail.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD criticised the decision of Dr Reilly to also send him a press release about the primary care centre dating back to last July, saying the overall response "oozes contempt".

"I hope it will be appropriately addressed, because it underlines again that the minister is not a fit person to be at the helm of the Department of Health," he said.

A Sinn Fein spokesman confirmed that Mr O Caolain was going to complain again about Dr Reilly's latest response.

The Department of Health has said the press release had only been set to Mr O Caolain as a courtesy.

In the full response, Dr Reilly said that he trusted it would clarify the matter.

"I'd like to assure you that there was no intention to avoid responding on this matter," he said.


The power for a TD to complain to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett about a response from a minister was only introduced last July by the Government as part of its Dail reforms.

According to the Oireachtas Commission, it has been used regularly by TDs but their complaints are now always upheld by Mr Barrett.

The use of the power has gone almost unnoticed till now because ministers do not publicise when they are forced to issue an improved answer.

In the Dail, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore pointed out that it was the Government who had changed the system to improve the quality of answers to TDs.

"I am glad that the new procedure is being used." he said.

Irish Independent

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