Tuesday 20 March 2018

Doctor in house

• The fact that Dr James Reilly is in breach of a High Court judgment is, unquestionably, a serious issue. But the imputation that a conflict of interest exists due to the overlap between his professional interests and his portfolio is grossly unfair to Dr Reilly.

Prior to his appointment, other GPs held the office of Health Minister, including James Ryan, Noel Browne, Rory O'Hanlon, and John O'Connell. All owned or part-owned their own medical practice, so why is Dr Reilly the first holder of the office to face such accusations?

Are all politicians now to be excluded from holding office in an area that they made a living before entering politics? At least six farmers were appointed as Agriculture Minister under recent Fianna Fail governments. Three lawyers held the Justice portfolio in Mr Cowen's government alone. I don't recall Fianna Fail calling for them to divest themselves of their farms or legal practices.

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