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The year ahead will be the big test of Leo Varadkar's metal as the health minister

The Irish health service starts off 2015 in a better place to where it was a year ago. There are two new, bright, competent, younger men in charge. Leo Varadkar as minister and Jim Breslin as Secretary General in the health department.

For the first time since 2009, the health budget is not being cut. Leo Varadkar has garnered much-needed cabinet support and critically the backing of the Economic Management Council. He has proved himself a steady, slick tiller at the top, particularly when contrasted to his predecessor, James Reilly who proved inept at every turn. Minister Kathleen Lynch has a broader remit than a year ago, responsible for primary and social care including mental health and disability services, and is performing like someone who has recently qualified for the senior team.

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