Saturday 24 March 2018

Reilly's strengths will be tested by a weakened health system

The Health Minister has the zeal to reform the ailing system but may not have the resources, writes John Crown

A VERY interesting experiment is taking place in the Department of Health. For the first time in many years, the organisation is under the stewardship of a minister, Dr James Reilly, who has experience of working in the health system; in his case as a family physician, and prior to that as a non-consultant hospital doctor.

The gulf in personal experience between Reilly and previous Irish health ministers is further underlined by the fact that the aggregate non-political occupational history of his three immediate ministerial predecessors, prior to their joining the Dail, was around four years, and was spent entirely in teaching (Micheal Martin and Mary Harney) or legal practice (Brian Cowen).

All became full-time politicians in their mid-twenties. Before them, Michael Noonan, who served in Health in the mid-Nineties, had a longer pre-political professional career, again as a teacher. Prior to Noonan, Brendan Howlin had entered full-time politics in his mid-twenties, again after a relatively brief phase of teaching.

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