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Shortall isolated as ministers rally round colleague

LABOUR Party junior minister Roisin Shortall is being left isolated after her latest public spat with Health Minister James Reilly.

Ms Shortall got little support from senior party colleagues after publicly questioning Dr Reilly's decision to add two towns in his constituency to the list of locations for new health centres -- after the final list was drawn up.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin's department backed Dr Reilly's approach, and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the health minister "needs the support of all his colleagues in government".

Ms Shortall said Dr Reilly had the final call on the list, and she didn't know how the towns in his Dublin North constituency, Balbriggan and Swords, ended up on it.

Transparent

Dr Reilly said a lease had been signed for the Balbriggan centre and Swords was in advanced negotiations for a private site.

Although he said he was able to deliver "good news" to his constituents, his officials were unable to provide details of the status of any of the rest of the locations on the list.

The Department of Health told the Irish Independent to refer our queries to the HSE.

Ms Shortall said any questions on the two locations should be directed to Dr Reilly, because she had no idea how or why they were added to her list.

The Dublin North-West TD indicated that Dr Reilly's approach was one rooted in an old type of politics.

"A list went out of my office, and any questions in relation to a more extensive list should be directed to Minister Reilly," she said yesterday at, ironically, an event in Balbriggan.

"I'd be interested to hear that because, as I say, I was trying to move towards having an objective and transparent system."

She added that Dr Reilly makes the final decisions, since "the senior minister always has the final call".

Ms Shortall refused on three occasions to express confidence in Dr Reilly, only saying the Government and ministers needed to "recommit" to the Programme for Government.

She added: "Minister Reilly and I need to work closely together." Dr Reilly said: "I stand over the decision. If I had to do it again, I would make the same decision."

Irish Independent